HereÕ where Bank of America stands on mortgages

FBR: BAC is well positioned for 2015

Bank of America’s (BAC) fourth-quarter earnings don’t show the same heightened focus on mortgage originations that its competitor Wells Fargo (WFC) does. But is it a good call.

It looks so, as outside of mortgages, an FBR Capital Markets report on Bank of America’s earnings said it is well positioned for 2015.  

“Despite a mixed quarter, Bank of America remains a focus name in 2015, and despite what was known to be a tough trading environment in the fourth quarter, ongoing core expenses cuts and building momentum in earnings and book value growth bode well for future valuation,” the report stated. “As such, we believe BAC is well positioned relative to our coverage list in terms of business momentum and catalysts in the coming year.”

Bank of America originated $11.6 billion in first-lien residential mortgage loans and $3.4 billion in home equity lines during the fourth quarter of 2014, compared to $11.7 billion and $3.2 billion in the prior quarter, the report adds.

Furthermore, the number of 60+ days delinquent first mortgage loans serviced by Legacy Assets and Servicing declined by 136,000 loans, or 42%, from the fourth quarter of 2013 to 189,000 loans.

As a whole, the company reported revenue, net of interest expense, as $18.73 billion, compared to $21.7 billion in the fourth quarter of 2013, which is about $2.2 billion below analyst expectations.

Shortly after the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced that they would begin offering 3% down mortgages, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan said the bank does not plan on easing its mortgages standards or offering the new products.

“You won’t see us start to expand our criteria much past what we’ve done today,” Moynihan, 55, said at a New York investor conference sponsored by Bank of America. “I don’t think there’s a big incentive for us to start to try to create more mortgage availability where the customers are susceptible to default.”

While the government pushes for more credit availability, Moynihan stands on the first opposite side. He asserted that a customer without the means to make a down payment of at least 10% should consider renting rather than trying to buy a home. 

Currently, 65% of the bank’s originations are refinances.

According the report, mortgage originations were largely flat from last quarter. Production income declined to $47 million from $126 million in the third quarter wholly driven by an increase in the reps and warranties provision to $250 million. 

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