Wednesday, January 24, 2007

B of A Credit Quality

Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) may be whistling through the graveyard when commenting on its credit quality. The press release states “Credit quality remained stable. Consumer credit costs rose in the fourth quarter from the third quarter of 2006 reflecting portfolio seasoning and the trend toward more normalized levels post-bankruptcy reform.”

Some would view the stable comment with skepticism and conclude this is not stable but perhaps mildly deteriorating. No B of A is not going to hell in a hand basket. But every single credit quality criteria has slipped. Provision for credit losses up. Net charge-offs are up. Total managed losses are up. Non-performing assets are up. The allowance for loan and lease losses was also up.

Some of these criteria are measured in hundreds of a basis point. Huge banks live and die by small changes in their spreads and expense ratio’s also calculated in hundreds of a basis point. Management needs to further comment on the changes. The silence is deafening.