Analysts newly bullish on Bank of America
It's fair to say that Meredith Whitney has become an unabashed bull when it comes to big bank stocks. But not all big bank stocks are created equal, and when it comes down to diversified commercial banks, she prefers Bank of America over Citigroup.
The well-known analyst appeared on Bloomberg Surveillance and said that she's "uninspired" by Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat.
"We don't really know Mike Corbat's agenda…He didn't give us an agenda and he didn't even give us a time stamp for when he's going to give us an agenda, so it left people a little bit uninspired," she said, adding that, "I think that Citi does ok, but I think Bank of America is the stock to own this year without a doubt."
She's hardly the only media-genic Bank of America bull right. Richard Bove of course has been singing the bank's praises as of late. Whitney's reasons track well with others. "There is so much financial leverage with that name," she said. "They will return I think over $4 billion in buybacks. It could be $5 billion in buybacks this year and really move the needle. I think that stock easily goes to 15 in the next six to nine months."
She remains a solid backer of CEO Brian Moynihan, noting, "People underestimate him, which is the advantage that every CEO should look for. It has cost him in the past, but I think it is really going to help him. I think he will look terrific this year."
That is a great endorsement for a CEO who has been doubted by many. Over the past few years, many have whispered that his job might be at risk. It's hard to say that now, not after the bank's stock more than doubled in 2012, thought there are plenty of risk factors at its lofty (relatively) valuation. The hard part may be in keeping up the appreciation. If it doubles two years in a row---not likely---people will really bow to him. -Jim