Bank of America’s first-quarter revenues miss market forecasts

Bank of America’s first-quarter revenues miss market forecasts

(Reuters) – Bank of America Corp missed revenue expectations in the first quarter but its earnings still beat forecasts as the bank chopped its expenses and grew its loan book.

FILE PHOTO: A Bank of America logo is pictured in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., January 30, 2019. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

The second-biggest U.S. bank by assets followed rival domestic lenders by struggling to generate top-line growth in the latest quarter and suffered from a decline in trading revenues.

U.S. banks have seen capital markets revenues held back by lower market volatility, which hurts trading, during the first quarter. Meanwhile, concerns over a possible impending U.S. recession are causing households and businesses to be more cautious about borrowing. That has left banks relying on expense cuts to drive profitability.

JP Morgan & Co, the country’s biggest bank by assets, has been the exception, growing revenues and beating earnings expectations while seeing its expenses rise as it invests in new technology.

Bank of America saw 3 percent growth in consumer loans and 4 percent growth in loans to businesses in the first quarter, allowing it to capture more revenue from higher U.S. interest rates. Revenue rose in two of the lender’s four main businesses.

The bank has benefited from the central bank’s four rate hikes in 2018, while a strong job market has also kept bad loans in check and borrowing healthy. BofA relies heavily on higher interest rates to maximize profits as it has a large deposit pool and rate-sensitive mortgage securities.

Net interest income – the difference between what a lender earns on loans and pays on deposits – rose 5 percent to $12.38 billion. Average deposits also rose nearly 5 percent to $1.36 trillion.

However, BofA’s trading desks, like its peers, have had a slow start to the year due to the U.S. government shutdown and lower volatility. Changes in the U.S. tax code and concerns about a trade war spurred more trading a year ago.

Overall trading revenue declined 17 percent. Equities trading revenue fell 22 percent and fixed-income trading revenue slipped 8 percent.

Advisory fees at Bank of America stayed flat, indicating the bank is missing out on the M&A boom lifting rival investment banks. On Monday, Goldman Sachs Group Inc reported a 51 percent surge in advisory fees.

Net income applicable to common shareholders rose 6 percent to $6.87 billion.

Excluding one-time items, the bank earned 71 cents per share, beating the 66 cents per share analysts on average had expected, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Revenue, net of interest expense, edged down to $23 billion from $23.1 billion a year ago and was below analysts’ expectations of $23.3 billion.

Additional reporting by Imani Moise. Editing by Neal Templin, Anil D’Silva and Chizu Nomiyama

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