Thursday, March 10, 2011

BofA's Moynihan Proves My Point

You have to laugh at BofA's CEO, Brian Moynihan, trying to make a virtue out of a vice.

As the chart in this recent post illustrated, BofA has performance problems. It has no business even thinking about expansion and acquisitions. And Moynihan, being a lawyer, is probably over-matched as it is trying to run such a large, diverse company. Remember the last time a lawyer ran a large US commercial bank?

That's right- Chuck Prince tanked Citicorp so badly the government had to step in and buy part of it to keep it from dissolution.

Anyway, back to our story. Moynihan gave a carefully-timed interview to CNBC the other afternoon, echoing a recent Wall Street Journal article announcing his "peace dividend." That's Moynihan's term for the value he plans to return to shareholders by not pursuing acquisitions. Considering the last two large BofA acquisitions cost Moynihan's predecessor, Ken Lewis, his job, you can understand his attitude toward expansion.

Laughably, according to the article, BofA thinks it will break new ground trying the oldest large commecial bank trick of all- cross-selling.

The short story on this vain attempt is that the customers with money know better than to give all their business to one giant mediocre banking firm, while the customers who want to do this aren't profitable enough to make it worthwhile.

Of course, being new to managing a bank, Moynihan probably doesn't realize this yet.......

Meanwhile, the firm is buying back its equity and closing branches. That sounds like a bank that acknowledges the over-banked nature of the US market.

Hardly a reason to invest, is it? I stand by my conclusions of the prior, linked post.

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