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On Thursday the company reported earnings of 3 cents a share. Revenue came in light at $22.28 billion.
Although analysts were looking for 12 cents a share, several weighed in saying that a $4.8 billion charge known as debt valuation adjustment (DVA) complicated the earnings report. Some say BofA actually beat core earnings expectations.
Evercore analyst Andrew Marquardt wrote, "Our initial view of core is closer to 26 cents."
Return on average equity of 11.05% beat fourth-quarter results, but was less than the 15.41% return the bank posted for the first quarter a year ago. BAC succeeded in reducing its credit-loss provisions to $2.42 billion from $3.81 billion in the fourth quarter.
"You had very favorable tailwinds in the fixed-income markets and so trading revenues are very strong for this universe right now," Charles Peabody, an analyst at Portales Partners LLC in New York, said in a Bloomberg Radio interview. "There's no question the earnings that are being reported are very good -- the question is the sustainability."
Despite beating estimates with its first-quarter earnings, BofA has struggled more than its counterparts in the wake of the financial crisis. The damage may be too much to allow the bank to grow to as big as it once was.