Analyst: Why BofA needs more accountability
Influential CLSA bank analyst Mike Mayo may have been wrong about putting a sell rating on Bank of America stock but insists he remains "dead right" for calling out perceived accountability issues at the bank.
In a scathing report to clients Tuesday afternoon, Mayo criticized Bank of America and its leadership for "unfocused strategy and muddled metrics," according to The Wll Street Journal's Money Beat blog. He highlighted the bank's stock performance in the KBW Index—a collection of banking stocks—which it trailed by 58 percentage points.
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"Just yesterday the CEO of Bank of America compared his company to a battleship, and he previously said they are narrowing the focus," Mayo said Wednesday in an interview on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street." "Which is it? Are you a battleship or are you narrowing the focus?"
The last few years have been good for bankers, success Mayo attributed to "tailwinds" created by a strong housing recovery, the Federal Reserve's asset-purchasing stimulus program and near-record highs across major stock indexes. Bank of America will lose that momentum, he said, if it doesn't address the accountability issues he has identified.
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Since hitting a 52-week low last November of $8.92 a share, Bank of America's stock rose steadily to reach a high of $15.03 in July.
"I've been dead wrong on Bank of America's stock since I put a sell rating on it," Mayo told CNBC. "Having said that, I think I'm dead right on the accountability issues at Bank of America. A company should have strategy, and with metrics to judge the success of that strategy, and with compensation attached to both. The compensation is not related to metrics I can find, and the strategy is unclear."
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He said investors should increase calls for accountability at all big banks to avoid increased government regulation, which he called "big brother banking."