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BofA Profits Drop 45% on COVID-19 Issues

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Like its peers, Bank of America reported a steep drop in first-quarter profits, which were $4.01 billion, or $0.40 per share — representing a 45% drop from last year and a 43% decline in earnings per share, respectively. They fell short of analysts’ estimates of $0.46 per share.  

In addition, the bank had a 1% year-over-year fall in revenues to $22.78 billion, and it set aside about $3.6 billion in Q1 as a loan-loss reserve tied to the coronavirus.

“Our results reflect the strength of our balance sheet, the diversity of our earnings, and the resilience of our teammates to serve clients around the world,” CEO Brian Moynihan said in a statement. “Despite increasing our loan loss reserves, we earned $4 billion this quarter.”

Goldman Sachs’ profits, announced early Thursday, weakened 49% to $1.1 billion in Q1’20. On Wednesday, Wells Fargo said its first-quarter profits fell 90% year over year to $653 million, while JPMorgan reported a 70% decline in net income to $2.87 billion.

Merrill, Wealth Results

The wealth unit fared better, reporting a 17% drop in profits in the first quarter from the year-ago period to $866 million and a 2% rise in revenues to $4.9 billion. 

The number of Merrill Lynch financial advisors stands at 17,646, up 111 from a year ago and 188 from the prior quarter. (Wells Fargo has some 13,450 advisors, and JPMorgan has roughly 2,880.)

Average 12-month fees and commissions per advisor are $1.14 million vs. $1.04 million in Q1’19 and $1.1 million in Q4’19. As for veteran advisors, their productivity stands at $1.46 million on average, up 8% from last year.

But there was some tough news reported, too: Merrill’s client asset level fell 7% year over year to about $2.2 trillion, and the broader wealth unit’s weakened 6% to $2.7 trillion. 

The wealth unit, though, had asset flows of $7 billion in Q1’20 vs. $6 billion in Q1’19 and $8 billion in Q4’19. Average deposits grew 1% year over year to $263 billion, and average loans and leases (which include home mortgages) jumped 9% to $179 billion.

The Merrill business added about 7,535 net new household clients. Referrals between the wirehouse and other units of the bank were up 52% year over year.

— Check out Wells Fargo Q1 Profits Drop 90% on ThinkAdvisor.