Bank of America said it earned hundreds of millions of dollars in the fourth quarter of 2012, but that still isn't satisfying critics who say the bank is still being dragged down by the remnants of its portfolio of bad mortgages.
The bank announced fourth quarter profits of $732 million. That's down 63%.
"The bottom line on this quarter is essentially underwhelming performance," said UNC Charlotte banking expert Tony Plath.
"The lawsuits continue, the foreclosures continue," Plath said, referring to the billions of dollars the bank continues to pay out to settle lawsuits related to its acquisition of Countrywide Financial in 2008. Countrywide's questionable mortgage practices led to millions of foreclosures that continue to haunt Bank of America.
Still, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan told bank analysts Thursday that those 'legacy issues' are diminishing and that the bank has had strong performance in core businesses like investment banking and wealth management.
"Our strategy continues to work. We're seeing growth across all the core businesses. We're seeing that momentum continue to accelerate," Moynihan said.
One are that hasn't accelerated is the bank's stock price. Shares fell in trading Thursday and dividends to stockholders are still a fraction of what they were during the bank's heyday.
Economist John Connaughton said the bank is a long way from being able to begin paying a significant dividend again. Bank of America "is not at the level it needs to be in order to restore that dividend," Connaughton said. "They've got to start to get that profitability back. Not just for a quarter but show consistent profitability over a period of time."