Bank of America reported a profit of $653 million, compared with a year-earlier profit of $2.05 billion, though that figure includes a $4.8 billion accounting charge related to changes in the value of the bank's debt.

Per-share earnings, which reflect the payment of preferred dividends, fell to 3 cents from 17 cents a year ago. Total revenue declined 17% to $22.28 billion. Excluding the accounting charge, revenue declined 2.8% to $27.26 billion.

Excluding accounting changes related to the bank's debt, BofA reported profits of 31 cents per share, compared with the 12 cents estimated by analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

Bank of America shares rose as much as 5.9% in pre-market trading Thursday after the banking giant posted the results. Shares were trading at $9.16 about 45 minutes before the market open. Through the Wednesday close, the stock has surged 60% since the beginning of the year.

The bank has spent much of the last year working to slim down and rid itself of the heavy overhang of the U.S. financial crisis. Now, with many of those efforts in action, investors are increasingly looking for signs of earnings power at the giant U.S. bank.

The bank's profit was again helped by reduced provisions for loan losses as credit quality continued to improve. Credit-loss provisions totaled $2.42 billion in the first quarter, compared with $3.81 billion a year earlier and $2.93 billion in the fourth quarter. Net charge-offs declined to $4.06 billion from $6.03 billion a year ago, and the charge-off ratio dropped to 1.8% from 2.6%. Total non-performing loans declined to $27.8 billion from $31.6 billion.

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