Bank heavyweight earnings slip

Thursday was a big day for earnings releases, with two bank heavyweights reporting first-quarter (Q1) 2016 earnings.

Bank of America (BAC)

Bank of America reported a 19 percent fall in earnings per share ($0.21) compared to the first quarter of last year ($0.26). The fall was largely attributable to a drop in investment banking and trading profits. Provision for credit losses increased 30% for the quarter, to $997 million.

Tier 1 Capital (CET1) improved to 11.6% (Q1 2015: 11.1%) of risk-weighted assets, while Leverage (SLR) improved to 6.8% (Q1 2015: 6.4%).

The dividend was held at 5 cents (Q1 2015: 5 cents), increasing the payout ratio to a modest 24%, from 19% in Q1 2015.

BAC is in a primary down-trend, having broken primary support at $15. Long-term Momentum below zero confirms. Expect a rally to test resistance at $15 but this is likely to hold and respect would warn of another decline, with a target of $9*.

Bank of America (BAC)

* Target calculation: 12 – ( 15 – 12 ) = 9

Wells Fargo (WFC)

Wells Fargo reported a 5 percent fall in (diluted) earnings per share ($0.99) compared to the first quarter of last year ($1.04). Provision for credit losses increased 78% for the quarter, to $1.09 billion, primarily due to exposure to the Oil & Gas sector.

Tier 1 Capital (CET1) improved to 10.6% (Q1 2015: 10.5%) of risk-weighted assets. No leverage ratio was provided..

The dividend of 37.5 cents is up on Q1 2015 dividend of 35 cents, increasing the payout ratio to 38% from 34% in Q1 2015.

WFC is in a primary down-trend, having broken primary support at $48. Long-term Momentum below zero confirms. Expect a rally to the descending trendline but respect is likely and reversal below $48 would warn of another decline, with a target of $40*.

Wells Fargo (WFC)

* Target calculation: 48 – ( 56 – 48 ) = 40

So far we have had three heavyweights, JPM, BAC and WFC all report similar performance: declining earnings per share despite deep cuts in non-interest expenses, partly attributable to rising provisions for credit losses.

Citigroup (C) is due to report Friday 11:00 am EST.

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