Brian Moynihan’s efforts to boost Bank of America profit through cost-cutting finally got some help from interest rates.

The lender posted its highest net income in six years as the chief executive officer cut expenses more than forecast and net interest income rose to the highest since 2011.

Moynihan and his executives have promised for years that the bank will boost revenue from lending whenever interest rates rise. And on that front, the lender — viewed by investors as the U.S. bank most affected by rate changes — just barely beat expectations.

Net interest income, which makes up about half of the Charlotte, North Carolina-based firm’s revenue, rose 1.6% from the previous quarter as the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates three times since December.

During his seven years as CEO, Moynihan has worked to reduce legal costs that dogged the firm after it acquired Merrill Lynch and troubled mortgage lender Countrywide Financial. The lender has spent $70 billion on legal bills since the financial crisis — more than any other U.S. bank — including $30 billion on mortgage putbacks.

Moynihan’s quest to right Bank of America drew praise this month from Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett, the firm’s largest shareholder. Buffett said in a CNBC interview that the CEO has done “a fantastic job.” Berkshire Hathaway took a $11.5 billion investment gain earlier this year when it converted preferred shares into common stock.

Third-quarter profit climbed 13% to $5.59 billion, or 48 cents a share, from $4.95 billion, or 41 cents, a year earlier, the bank said Friday in a news release. The average estimate of 26 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was for per-share profit of 46 cents.

The bank’s shares rose 0.6% to $25.60 at 7:02 a.m. in early trading in New York. The stock climbed 15% this year through Thursday, outpacing the 8.2% advance of the 24-company KBW Bank Index.

Total revenue rose less than 1% to $21.8 billion from a year earlier, slightly below analysts’ expectations of $21.9 billion. Expenses declined 2.5% to $13.1 billion, compared with estimates of $13.3 billion.

Revenue from trading stocks and bonds declined 15% from a year earlier to $3.15 billion — in line with the percentage drop the lender predicted last month. Fixed-income, which is more than twice the size of the firm’s stock-trading business, contributed the most to the slump, declining 22% to $2.17 billion.

Bank of America posted $11.4 billion in net interest income, using the adjusted figure analysts tend to prefer to show fully taxable equivalence. That topped estimates of $11.35 billion.


Bloomberg News
Bloomberg News

Bloomberg News