Bank of America on Tuesday became the latest big U.S. bank to release financial results for the first three months of the year. Chuck Burton AP
Bank of America on Tuesday became the latest big U.S. bank to release financial results for the first three months of the year. Chuck Burton AP

Bank Watch

News and notes on Charlotte's banks and the financial industry

Bank Watch

Bank of America’s first-quarter profit jumps 40 percent

April 18, 2017 6:52 AM

Bank of America on Tuesday reported $4.9 billion in first-quarter profits, an increase of 40 percent from the same quarter last year.

The Charlotte-based bank said it had $22 billion in revenue, up 7 percent, while its total expenses were flat.

In a statement, CEO Brian Moynihan attributed the stronger results in part to higher consumer spending and an improvement in investment banking fees. The bank also noted it benefited from rising interest rates, which the Federal Reserve increased in March for the third time since the financial crisis.

Bank of America becomes the latest big U.S. bank to release results for the first three months of the year.

Last week, Wells Fargo reported flat earnings of $5.5 billion, as expenses rose in part from a sales scandal that erupted last fall. Executives for the San Francisco-based bank, which has its biggest employee hub in Charlotte, said last week that the company expects to cut staff over time in an effort to curb rising expenses.

Also last week, New York’s JPMorgan Chase & Co. said its first-quarter profit rose 17 percent to $6.4 billion, while Citigroup said its profit also climbed 17 percent to $4.1 billion.

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Investors are expecting improving financial results from Bank of America and other big banks in the wake of November’s election of President Donald Trump, who has raised hopes for lighter regulation on the industry and faster increases in interest rates by the Federal Reserve. Those higher rates could help bank profits.

“The U.S. economy continues to show consumer and business optimism, and our results reflect that,” Moynihan said in his statement.

Since the election, Bank of America’s share price has risen 34 percent, outpacing jumps at Citigroup, JPMorgan and Wells Fargo – and surpassing the 19 percent increase in the KBW index, which tracks stocks of 24 big banks.

But Moynihan, now in his eight year as chief executive, also remains under pressure to improve key profitability measures at his company.

The CEO for years has been cutting away at expenses at a bank that grew unwieldy after decades of acquisitions. Such efforts have involved shedding branches and employees in Charlotte and elsewhere.

In February, the bank announced it was testing “completely automated” branches, its latest push into self-service as Moynihan seeks to further lower costs.

Deon Roberts: 704-358-5248, @DeonERoberts

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