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BofA Beats Estimates, Boosts Advisors and Production

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Bank of America (BAC) said Thursday that it had first-quarter net income of $653 million, or $0.03 per share, versus profits of $2 billion, or $0.17 a share, last year. Revenue, excluding certain adjustments, was roughly $27.3 billion, a drop of 3% from last year.

The bank, which is reportedly trying to sell its non-U.S. Merrill Lynch wealth operations, took charges of $4.8 billion related to changes in the value of its debt. Excluding these adjustments, earnings were $0.31 cents a share, topping analysts’ estimates of $0.12.

The total number of financial advisors rose to 17,512 from 17,308 in the prior quarter and 15,797 in the year-ago quarter. Average trailing 12-month production, or fees and commissions in the quarter, were $905,000 per advisor, up from $881,000 in the fourth quarter of 2011 but down from $1,005,000 in the first quarter of 2011.

Click for more of AdvisorOne's 1Q 2012 earnings coverage.“By focusing on building strong customer and client relationships, we’re doing more business and winning in the marketplace,” said CEO Brian Moynihan, in a press release. “Our strategy is paying off: With the economy steadily improving and because of the work we have done to strengthen and simplify our company, we saw improved profitability in all of our businesses this quarter compared to the fourth quarter of last year.”

The Global Wealth and Investment Management unit, which includes the Merrill Lynch and Merrill Edge advisors, had net income of $547 million, which was slightly above last year’s figure and up sharply from $257 million in the fourth quarter.

Revenue for the unit dropped to $4.4 billion, an increase from $4.2 billion in the prior quarter but Sallie Krawcheckdown from $4.5 billion a year ago. Merrill reps produced about $3.7 billion in sales for the unit.

Client assets stood at roughly $2.2 trillion, with $1.84 billion managed by Merrill Lynch advisors.

Merrill’s thundering herd and the GWIM unit is led by David Darnell, who replaced Sallie Krawcheck (right) in a bank restructuring in September 2011. On Wednesday, Krawcheck joined the board of Gold Bullion International.


Read full coverage of AdvisorOne’s Q1 2012 earnings season.