NEW YORK (TheStreet) — Bank of America(BAC) will likely hit $32 per share, according to the latest bullish forecast by Rochdale Securities analyst Richard Bove.Bove has been touting bank stocks for several months now, and in May he argued Citigroup(C) and Bank of America would sextuple by 2015.
Bove said in a voice message left with TheStreet that he estimates it will take roughly three years for Bank of America to reach $32.
While his official price target is $19.25, he also states in the report that he believes Bank of America will “more likely” return to its historical price of 1.5 times book value, which would be $32. However, he also sees a chance the stock will return merely to book value, though that would still be $21–sharply higher than where it was on Wednesday. Bank of America currently trades at “a 42% discount to stated book value,” according to Bove’s report.
Bove argues if Bank of America hits “normalized earnings” of $3 per share, selling at $32 would be just over 10 times earnings which is very consistent with bank price-to-earnings multiples, he says.
“Those are some of the reasons I’m up there in the sky in terms of this number. And also recall the stock is up 400% from its bottom which was $3 a share or slightly below, so these stocks are actually doing what we hoped they would do, although it’s always back and fill and it’s always agony day by day,” Bove says.
Most sellside analysts have a bullish view on Bank of America. Among 25 analysts surveyed by TheStreet, 14 have a “strong buy,” 3 have a “moderate buy”, 8 have a “hold” and none have a “sell” rating. However, TheStreet Ratings grade for Bank of America is a D+, or a “sell”.
Still, most believe return on equity will be sharply lower for Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase(JPM), Wells Fargo(WFC), Goldman Sachs(GS) and other big financial players as they are forced to hold a larger capital cushion in the wake of the crisis.
Bove’s bullishness comes despite the fact that he has lately been critical of Bank of America management, arguing CEO Brian Moynihan has been too busy doing interviews and meeting with clients to effectively run the company.
The seemingly contradictory stance is not unusual for Bove, however, given his strong conviction that the bank sector is unfairly beaten down and that even banks he has doubts about will post strong share price gains. Though Bove has historically not been afraid of issuing a “sell” rating, he has none at the moment, though he had three neutral ratings and had dropped coverage on four companies he disliked as of October.
Whether Bove’s long-term outlook proves correct, Bank of America may be poised for gains Thursday. It got an after-hours lift on Wednesday after announcing it had extended settlement talks with a group of bondholders looking to make it buy back mortgages underwritten by Countrywide. The bondholders, which include BlackRock(BLK), the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Pacific Investment Management Co. argued the loans were not properly serviced.
— Written by Dan Freed in New York.
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