Despite its myriad troubles and doubters on Wall Street, Bank of America has a friend in Dick Bove.
The widely followed vice president of equity research at Rafferty Capital Markets is such a believer in BofA that he holds a well-above-consensus price target on the institution, and in fact believes that its share price will double in the next four years.
At a time when BofA's management has come under fire after , Bove sees that tumult as the very reason for him to maintain the optimism he has had for the company since the dark days of the financial crisis..
"Events in recent weeks related to management shifts at the institution only further confirm that view," he said in a note to clients.
In particular, Bove gushes over CEO Brian Moynihan, calling him a "brilliant" leader who took over "a devastated organization."
"He broadened the company's reach from being a domestic retail bank to a full-line investment banking company at the very top of the industry," Bove wrote. "And, he brought the bank overseas meaningfully broadening its market reach."
Not everyone on Wall Street is so enamored with BofA, however.
Multiple questions arose about the bank's managerial stability when Chief Financial Officer Bruce Thompson stepped down just days after the company reported seemingly blockbuster second-quarter earnings. Some analysts, meanwhile, weren't as enthusiastic about the bank's profit picture even in view of the 45 cent profit that beat analyst expectations.
CLSA analyst Mike Mayo, despite recently telling CNBC that he is "more positive on bank stocks than anytime in the past 16 years," has remained a skeptic on BofA. BMO Capital Markets analyst James Fotheringham also raised concerns.
"By the end of 2016, we expect BAC will be the only inadequately capitalized money center bank," Fotheringham said in a recent research note. "This is an unfortunate distinction given healthy systemwide asset growth and ongoing market share loss by money center banks to nonbanks."
BofA's tier one capital ratio—the amount of capital it keeps compared to assets weighted by the risk they carry—is 12.5 percent, which is only slightly lower than JPMorgan Chase's 12.8 percent and equal to Citigroup. It trades at 0.8 times book value, which is actually a slight discount to Citi's 0.9 times and JPM's 1.2 times, according to S&P Capital IQ.
BofA shares are up just 1.1 percent year to date, underperforming both the , which has gained 2.2 percent, and the KBW Nasdaq Bank index, up 5.5 percent.
Bove said BofA, the second-largest bank by assets with $2.1 trillion, "has more capital than any company of any type in the United States." He has a 12-month price target of $23, compared to the consensus of $19, and a target price of $34 by 2019.
"The company is making money again. It has a solid leader in Brian Moynihan. It is building a new cadre of managers," Bove said, calling the bank "a financial giant that has yet to exert its power."