Bank of America reported Q4 EPS of $0.28, or $0.29 ex-DVA, a modest improvement from a year ago, and above the 0.27% expected, driven by ongoing expense reduction in the form of fewer lawsuits and fewer employees. However, GAAP revenue of $19.5 (not the non-GAAP revenue of $19.8 proudly featured), missed expectations of $19.8 billion, on continued deterioration in Sales and Trading revenues.
The expense reduction was driven by “progress made on LAS cost initiatives, while benefits from optimization efforts across the franchise were largely offset by investments in the business” as well as the bank’s never-ending reduction in force: “FTE headcount was down 5% from 4Q14, as continued progress in LAS and other reductions in support staff and infrastructure more than offset increases in client-facing professionals.”
BofA did warn however, that compared to 4Q15, 1Q16 expenses are expected to be impacted by the following items:
- Annual retirement-eligible incentive compensation costs, which are expected to be approximately $1.0B
- Seasonally elevated payroll tax costs, which are expected to be higher by approximately $0.3B
- Revenue-related expenses associated with seasonally higher sales and trading results
Then again, if the recent trend is any indication, the “seasonally higher sales and trading results” may not be there: here is a chart of BofA’s revenue line item in this most important revenue stream:
The decline in revenue appears to be a function of continued contraction in the bank’s VaR, as more traders are hunkering down in light of the central bank cross currents observed over the past year, also leading to a notable drop in BofA’s average trading-related assets, which printed at multi-year lows of just $416BN in Q4, down $40BN from a year ago.
Here is BofA’s explanation on the full breakdown of its global banking operation:
- Lower IB fees versus 4Q14 were mostly offset by a gain on an equity investment in 4Q15
- FICC revenue increased $0.3B, or 20%, from 4Q14, reflecting improvement across most products, notably in rates and credit-related products
- Equities revenue decreased 3% from 4Q14, reflecting lower client activity
Unlike other banks, BofA did not cut trader pay as aggressively: Noninterest expense increased $0.2B versus 4Q14, due primarily to higher revenue-related expenses.
Finally, the last key “legacy” item was the Bank’s Net Interest Margin. Here there was little notable to report of, as adjusted Net Interest Yield rose fom 2.10% to 2.16%, representing $10.0 billion in Income, up from $9.7 billion the prior quarter, “driven by commercial loan growth and higher investment securities balances.”
But what about the future: after all the jump in NIM is why the Fed is hiking rates? Here BofA is certainly hopeful, and says the following:
We remain well positioned for NII to benefit as rates move higher:
- +100 bps parallel shift in interest rate yield curve is estimated to benefit NII by $4.3B over the next 12 months
- Asset sensitivity has decreased since prior quarter, driven primarily by increases in long-end rates and higher securities balances
Good luck with that 100 bps parallel shift: for now the curve is not only shifting in the – not + direction, but it continues to flatten with every passing day. Oddly enough, there was no comment on that.
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And as for the data we’ve all been waiting for, first a quick snapshot of BofA’s overall Asset quality trends, we find that net charge offs jumped by $1.1 billion, a 0.51% ratio, the highest since Q1 of 2014 and an increase of $0.2B from 3Q15, “driven by an increase in commercial charge-offs related to the energy sector.” Here we go.
However, despite an increase in energy charge-offs, BofA kepts its provision for credit losses unchanged at 0.8% BN where it has been for the past year.
Finally, the full disclosure, as little as it may be, on the bank’s commercial portfolio where all of its energy exposure is to be found, revealed that commercial net charge-offs increased $75MM compared to 3Q15, driven by losses in Energy, while the Allowance increased $144MM from 3Q15, driven by energy-related exposures and higher loan growth across the portfolio.” The total allowance at Dec. 31 was $4.849 billion.
What was the total loan loss provision related to energy? We don’t know. As for the question if this was was enough, we will let readers decide when they consider that BofA revealed its “Utilized Energy exposure of $21.3B ($1B traded products)”, down $2.6 billion from a year ago. BofA also notes that the “higher risk sub-sectors of Oil Field Services and Exploration & Production comprise 39% of utilized energy exposure.” We suppose this is a euphemism for junk bond exposure.
BofA also revealed that reservable criticized exposure increased $2.9B compared to 3Q15, driven by a $2.6B increase in Energy: a rather sizable jump.
And then this unexpected whopper: “Energy reservable criticized exposure was $4.7B at 4Q15; increased from 3Q15 due primarily to a downgrade of one large single-name credit supported by a sovereign.”
Finally, BofA said that total commercial NPLs increased $110MM from 3Q15, to $1.2 billion driven mostly by increases in Energy. It is unclear of this $1.2 billion precisely how much is attributed to Energy.
We hope to learn more during the Bank of America conference call beginning shortly.
This article is brought to you courtesy of Tyler Durden From Zero Hedge.