For Immediate Release
Chicago, IL – March 5, 2012 – Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include Bank of America Corporation (BAC), JP Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Wells Fargo & Company (WFC), Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT) and The Coca Cola Company (KO).
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Here are highlights from Friday’s Analyst Blog:
BofA Considering New Fees Again
It has been over a year since Bank of America Corporation (BAC) has been testing its new fee structure in the states of Arizona, Massachusetts and Georgia. In this context, on Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported that BofA is planning to impose these fees on its customers.
According to the company, there has been no decision as to how or when these fees would be introduced on new accounts.
According to the source, BofA is considering raising monthly fees on checking accounts. The company is planning to charge $6-$9 per month on basic checking accounts. Apart from this, the company is also mulling monthly fee in the range of $9-$25 on other checking accounts.
However, customers need not worry as there are certain ways to avoid these fees. BofA will be giving its customers various options to avoid these fees by making it compulsory for them to switch to online banking including e-payment of bills. Other than this, the customer can evade increased fees by maintaining minimum balances, taking a loan from the company or using BofA’s credit card.
By opting for e-banking, the customers as well as BofA are expected to benefit in the long run. It would be easier for the customers to keep a track of all the banking records.
Further, by paying bills electronically, the customers can avoid check printing fees and save on postages. Therefore, the company’s expenses will also get reduced as there would be no need of buying papers and sending monthly account statements.
BofA’s decision to give options to its customers is a way to prevent public outcry, which it had faced last year. In 2011, the company had decided to charge $5 per month for using the company’s debit card. However, following stiff opposition from the customers, the company had to withdraw this fee.
With almost all the major banking companies facing revenue losses due to the regulatory curbs on imposition of various service charges and overall weakness in the economy, BofA’s decision to introduce new fees can be seen as a step to increase revenues.
Similar to BofA, other major banks including JP Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Wells Fargo & Company (WFC) are trying to recoup fee revenues by rolling out different plans or pushing the customers to involve in more financial activities with them.
Currently, BofA retains a Zacks #3 Rank, which translates into a short-term Hold rating.
Wal-Mart Ups Annual Dividend
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT), with its annual dividend hike to $1.59 per share from $1.46 per share, boasts of a tradition of dividend increase since 1974 annually.
The company’s board of directors has hiked its dividend by 8.9% to $1.59 to be paid in fiscal 2013 which ends on January 13, 2013. The dividend will be paid in four equal quarterly installments of 39.75 cents per share. The first installment would be payable on April 4 to shareholders of record on March 12. We note, however, that the current dividend increase is much less than the previous years’ dividend increases of 21% in fiscal 2012, 11% in fiscal 2011 and 15% in fiscal 2010.
Further, the move comes almost two weeks after the company posted outstanding fourth quarter and fiscal 2012 earnings of $1.44 and $4.49 per share, which were 7.5% and 10.3% higher than the year-ago earnings. In addition, the company also reported better-than-expected comparable store sales last week, and paid $5.0 billion in dividends for the year.
In the recent past, The Coca Cola Company (KO) also hiked its annual dividend by 8.5% to 51 cents per share from 47 cents per share for the year 2012. The first quarterly dividend is payable on April 1, 2012 to shareholders of record on March 15, 2012.
Wal-Mart, which holds a Zacks #3 Rank implying a short-term Hold rating, has 10,130 retail units under 69 different banners in 27 countries. With fiscal year 2012 sales of approximately $444 billion, Wal-Mart employs more than 2 million associates worldwide. Over the long term, we provide a Neutral recommendation on the stock.
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