Bank of America income dives to US$3.5b, sets aside US$4b for loan losses

Business | 16 Jul 2020 8:51 pm

Bank of America’s second quarter profits were sawed in half and the consumer banking giant set aside billions of dollars to cover potentially bad loans caused by the pandemic.

Bank earnings this quarter have begun to paint a picture of American families and businesses struggling to pay bills with swaths of the nation’s economy shut down.

Combined, the five big Wall Street banks that have reported quarterly earnings have set side more than US$30 billion to cover loans that may be unrecoverable. Those provisions come on top of the tens of billions they set aside in the first quarter when the pandemic first began to bloom.

Bank of America reported a profit of US$3.53 billion, or 37 cents a share, down from US$7.34 billion, or 74 cents a share, in the same period a year ago. Wall Street had actually expected worse, but shares still sold off before the opening bell Thursday.

Because it is so consumer-focused, BofA is feeling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic more acutely than other major banks. During the quarter, the bank processed 1.8 million requests for payment deferrals on credit cards, mortgages and auto loans, of which 1.7 billion are still in place as of last week.

BofA put aside US$4 billion for credit losses, still less than most competitors.

The bank also revised down its outlook for the U.S. economy, following similar actions by other banks this week. At the start of the pandemic, many economists and bankers expected a sharp “V”-shaped recovery as businesses that shut down, began to reopen.

But a resurgence of infections in heavily populated states like California, Florida, Texas and elsewhere have slowed, stopped or reversed the reopening of economies nationwide.

“While net charge-offs remained relatively low by historical standards, we added another US$4 billion to credit reserves to reflect the current economic outlook,” said Bank of America Chief Financial Officer Paul Donofrio in prepared statement.-AP

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