Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) earned $2.25 billion for shareholders in the first quarter, or 20 cents per share, the bank reported Wednesday -- higher than the same period a year ago but below analysts' expectations.
The consensus estimate was 23 cents per share.
The Charlotte bank's revenue, however, increased to $23.7 billion. Both Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase reported revenue drops. Bank of America also said its expenses fell $1 billion from a year ago, which it attributes to its cost-cutting plan known as Project New BAC.
"We feel very good about the quarter," Chief Financial Officer Bruce Thompson said on a conference call with reporters. "You can see a real improvement."
The bank cut more than 4,000 jobs in the first quarter.
Within the earnings announcement, Bank of America also reported a $500 million agreement to settle class-action lawsuits related to mortgage-backed securities issued by Countrywide Financial Corp. Bank of America acquired the subprime lender in 2008.
The settlement would cover securities with a principal balance of $350 billion. Thompson said that eliminates 70 percent of the outstanding balances where litigation had been threatened or filed.
Bank of America's earnings had largely been wiped out in the previous two quarters by massive legal settlements. In the third quarter, Bank of America paid $2.4 billion to settle a shareholder lawsuit connected to the bank's 2008 acquisition of Merrill Lynch.
Three months later, the bank agreed to pay about $13 billion in two separate mortgage-related settlements.
Bank of America earned $328 million for common shareholders, or 3 cents per share in the first quarter last year. The results, however, were marred by $4.8 billion in accounting losses tied to the increasing market value of the bank's debt.
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