The Trials and Tribulations Of Trading BofA

Monday, 14 Sep 2009 | 5:36 PM ET

Ever since Bank of America acquired Merrill Lynch the bank has been grappling with a series of setbacks? What do they mean for shareholders?

As you may remember, CEO Ken Lewis came under considerable scrutiny for going forward with the takeover of Merrill Lynch last year at this time, in a deal that was cobbled together so quickly investors barely knew what hit them.

After digesting the news, shareholders were irate that Lewis took on so many toxic assets and lawmakers were concerned that Bush officials used coercive tactics to get the deal done.

But the acquisition stood.

Then, Merrill bonuses became another sore spot for Bank of America; the issue ultimately resulted in charges that BAC misled investors about the payment of $3.6 billion of bonuses to Merrill employees, even though that company lost $27.6 billion last year.

Well Bank of America was slapped with another setback on Monday.

A federal judge rejected Bank of America's proposed settlement over those bonuses, describing the agreement as a "contrivance" that harms shareholders and directed the parties to prepare for a possible trial that would begin no later than February 1, 2010.

Bank of America/Merrill Anniversary
A year later, reflecting on the deal and the attorney general's pursuit for answers, with Jeffrey Harte, Sandler O'Neill analyst.

The decision comes as Bank of America faces a deadline to provide more details about the Merrill merger to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, or else its executives could face possible fraud charges.

Is the stock too risky to own?

No, I don’t think the stock is too risky to own, counsels Sandler O’Neil analyst Jeff Harte. If you're an investor you should ask yourself what’s the fundamental outlook for Bank of America, or any company, if you're looking at buying a stock? To me Bank of America's fundamental outlook is solid and the bank seems well positioned to earn a lot of money going forward. I don’t want to dismiss these outstanding issues but by and large I like the stock.

I agree, adds Karen Finerman. I own preferred shares and common shares of Bank of America, she reveals.

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Trader disclosure: On Sept. 14, 2009, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s Fast Money were owned by the Fast Money traders; Adami Owns (AGU), (C), (GS), (INTC), (MSFT), (NUE), (BTU); Finerman Owns (PDE), (RIG); Finerman's Firm Owns (BAC) Preferred Shares, Finerman Owns (BAC) Preferred Shares And Owns (BAC); Finerman's Firm Owns (WFC) Preferred Shares And Is Short (WFC); Finerman Owns (WFC) Preferred Shares; Finerman's Firm Owns (WMT), (RIG), (MSFT), (NOK), (PBR), (PDE), (SYK), (FLIR); Finerman's Firm Is Short (IJR), (MDY), (SPY), (IWM), (USO); Najarian Owns (AAPL) & Short (AAPL) Calls; Najarian Owns (BAC) & Short (BAC) Calls; Najarian Owns (BUCY) & Short (BUCY) Calls; Najarian Owns (C) Calls; Najarian Owns (FCX), Owns (FCX) Put, Is Short (FCX) Calls; Najarian Owns (JPM) & Is Short (JPM) Calls; Najarian Owns (JOYG) & Short (JOYG) Calls; Najarian Owns (MS) And Is Short (MS) Call; Najarian Owns (MSFT) And Is Short (MSFT) Call; Najarian Owns (PALM) Calls; Najarian Owns (RIMM) Call Spread; Najarian Owns (TEVA); Najarian Owns (V) & Short (V) Calls; Najarian Owns (WFC) Put Spread; Najarian Owns (YHOO) Calls ; Najarian Owns (DNDN) Calls; Najarian Owns (HOLX) Calls; Terranova Owns December Gold Futures; Terranova Is Short (CCL); Terranova Works For (VRTS)

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For Jeff Harte:
Sandler O'Neill Expects To Receive Compensation from (BAC)
(BAC) Is A client of Sandler O'Neill
Sandler O'Neill Expects To Receive Compensation from (GS)
(GS) Is A client of Sandler O'Neill

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