Bank of America

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IBM Asian Revenues Crash, Adjusted Earnings Beat On Tax Rate Fudge; Debt Rises 20% To Fund Stock Buybacks





Fudging Non-GAAP numbers is nothing new: everyone does it, even if it means that real, operating earnings for IBM (and most other companies) are substantially lower, and sure enough IBM's real EPS was $5.73. But this is just the tip, because one has to look deep into the income statement to find just how it is that IBM, whose pre-tax income actually declined by 11% could post a 14% increase in non-GAAP EPS. The answer: taxes. And just like Bank of America, IBM decided to crater its Q4 tax rate, which was 25.5% in Q4 2012 and in Q4 2013 dropped to... 11.2%. Seriously IBM? Incidentally, this epic accounting gimmick is also why one should look at IBM's revenues which were a debacle: not only did they miss expectations of a $28.3 billion in Q4, printing at $27.7 billion, but were down 5%. And while most revenue items were weak, the piece de resistance was Systems and Tech revenue, which cratered 25%!

 


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Bank of America Is Actively Preparing For The Chinese January 31 Trust Default





Last week we were the first to raise the very real and imminent threat of a default for a Chinese wealth management product (WMP) default - specifically China Credit Trust's Credit Equals Gold #1 (CEQ1) - and its potential contagion concerns. It seems BofAML is now beginning to get concerned, noting that over 60% of market participants expects repo rates to rise if a trust product defaults and based on the analysis below, they think there is a high probability for CEQ1 to default on 31 January, i.e. no full redemption of principal and back-coupon on the day. Crucially, with the stratospheric leverage ratios now engaged in such products, BofAML warns trust companies must answer some serious questions: will they stand back behind every trust investment or will they have to default on some or potentially many of them? BofAML believes the question needs an answer because investors and Trusts can’t have their cake and eat it too. The potential first default, even if it’s not CEQ1 on 1/31, would be important based on the experience of what happened to the US and Europe; the market has tended to underestimate the initial event.

 


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Average Pay Of Goldman Banker Rises To $383,374 On Expectations Beat Despite Plunge In Order Flow





Yesterday Bank of America beat thanks to (among other things) ye olde "plunge in the effective tax rate" gimmick which let it beat EPS by two cents instead of missing by three. Today it was Goldman's turn to "beat" lowered EPS expectations of $4.18, posting a substantial beat of $4.60. So did Goldman also fudge its tax rate? Not exactly: instead, what Goldman did was to reduce its compensation benefits from $2.4 billion to $2.2 billion, which meant the firm's compensation margin declined from 35.2% to a tiny 24.9% of revenue. Had Goldman kept the comp margin flat it would have missed EPS by about 50 cents. However, unlike the other "banks" Goldman at least did post a notable beat in GAAP revenues (it was reluctant to use a non-GAAP top line, hear that Jamie?) as well, with Q4 sales rising from $6.7 billion in Q3 to $8.8 billion, on expectations of $7.8 billion. However, compared to a year ago, the top line was 5% lower, while Net Income of $4.60 was 21% lower than a year earlier.

 


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Bank Of America Beats On Lower Tax Rate, Higher Loss Reserve Release As Mortgage Originations Plunge 50%





If yesterday it was JPM's turn to shock and awe everyone with its adoption of FVA and impress with its non-GAAP revenues, today it is the turn of Bank of America to confuse everyone with its traditionally indecipherable earnings release. So here is the punchline. BAC reported revenues of $21.7 billion which beat expectations of $21.14 billion, although more importantly EPS of $0.29 vs expectations of $0.27. So how did BAC generate the better than expected top and bottom line? Simple - the top line beat was driven by the bank's return to an aggressive extraction of non-income income from loan-loss reserve releases, which in the current quarter rose to $1.246 billion, up from $900 million a year ago. Considering the Bank had non-GAAP pretax income of $3.8 billion, this amount to just about a third of its earnings. Additionally, the company paid only $406 million in reported taxes on pretax income of $3.845 billion, or a 10.6% effective tax rate. How does this compare to the historic average of 25%? Obviously, it's much lower.  In fact, if BAC had used its historic tax rate of 25%, the EPS "beat" of $0.29 would have become a $0.25 miss. But all is fair in sellside analyst love and making up non-GAAP numbers.

 


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Equity Rebound Continues Into Day Two: New All Time Highs Straight Ahead





Day two of the bounce from the biggest market drop in months is here, driven once again by weak carry currencies, with the USDJPY creeping up as high as 104.50 overnight before retracing some of the gains, and of course, the virtually non-existant volume. Whatever the reason don't look now but market all time highs are just around the corner, and the Nasdaq is back to 14 year highs. Stocks traded higher since the get-go in Europe, with financials leading the move higher following reports that European banks will not be required in upcoming stress tests to adjust their sovereign debt holdings to maturity to reflect current values. As a result, peripheral bond yield spreads tightened, also benefiting from good demand for 5y EFSF syndication, where price guidance tightened to MS+7bps from initial MS+9bps. Also of note, Burberry shares in London gained over 6% and advanced to its highest level since July, after the company posted better than expected sales data. Nevertheless, the FTSE-100 index underperformed its peers, with several large cap stocks trading ex-dividend today. Going forward, market participants will get to digest the release of the latest Empire Manufacturing report, PPI and DoE data, as well as earnings by Bank of America.

 


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Post Payrolls Market Recap





With no major macro news on today's docket, it is a day of continuing reflection of Friday's abysmal jobs report, which for now has hammered the USDJPY carry first and foremost, a pair which is now down 170 pips from the 105 level seen on Friday, which in turn is putting pressure on global equities. As DB summarizes, everyone "knows" that Friday's US December employment report had a sizeable weather impact but no-one can quite grasp how much or why it didn't show up in other reports. Given that parts of the US were colder than Mars last week one would have to think a few people might have struggled to get to work this month too. So we could be in for another difficult to decipher report at the start of February. Will the Fed look through the distortions? It’s fair to say that equities just about saw the report as good news (S&P 500 +0.23%) probably due to it increasing the possibility in a pause in tapering at the end of the month. However if the equity market was content the bond market was ecstatic with 10 year USTs rallying 11bps. The price action suggests the market was looking for a pretty strong print.

 


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Relax Or You Will Be Fired





It's not just Bank of America that is 'worried' about the health of its junior employees. As Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports, Americans eat at their desks, work longer days, and retire later than their counterparts in most other parts of the world (especially France). But, while the likes of Oprah offer holistic solutions to harness yopur stress, and bosses insist that you take your weekends off (or else), the workload itself is not reduced. Do not fear though as Senator Glenn Grotham is pressing to undo a "goofy" law requiring employers to give workers a day off - "all sorts of people want to work 7 days-a-week," he noted... indeed they do Senator.

 


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Bank Of America Smiles On Its Junior Bankers, Tells Them To Take 4 Weekend Days Off





In a memo to employees today, Bank of America has made some 'improvements' to its recommendations for analysts and associates working hours...

*BOFA ANNOUNCES IMPROVEMENT IN WORKING CONDITIONS FOR JUNIORS
*BOFA SAYS JUNIOR BANKERS SHOULD TAKE 4 WEEKEND DAYS OFF A MONTH

This comes on the heels of the death of a 21-year old intern in August who "pulled eight all-nighters in two weeks" prior to his death. Next they will be demanding a rise in minimum wage...
 


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China Overtakes US As World's Largest Trader (Except With Japan)





Overnight China reported disappointing export data, missing expectations of +5%. The gvoernment explained this on the basis that they were losing their competitive edge since the Yuan has strengthened to 20 year highs but perhaps most telling is that fact that, as the FT reports, China became the world's biggest trader in goods for the first time last year - overtaking the US for all of 2013. We suspect the powers that be are starting to get nervous as this comes soon after China's surge to become the world's largest oil importer marking a notable shift in the world's most powerful nations - as trade with the rest of Asia and increasing flows with the Middle East represent a shift in power away from the US.

 


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For First Time Ever, Most Members Of Congress Are Millionaires





A month ago, we showed a chart of median household income in the US versus that just in the District of Columbia. The punchline wrote itself: "what's bad for America is good for Washington, D.C." Today we got official verification that Bernanke's wealth transfer in addition to benefitting the richest 1%, primarily those dealing with financial assets, also led to a material increase in the wealth of one particular subgroup of the US population: its politicians.  According to the OpenSecrets blog which conveniently tracks the wealth of America's proud recipients of lobbying dollars, aka Congress, for the first time ever the majority of America's lawmakers are worth more than $1 million.

 


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Equity Futures Stong On ECB Day Ahead Of Earnings Season Start: Market Recap





The overnight session began on a dour mood, with both the Shanghai Composite and Nikkei sliding (the former once again just barely above 2,000,  latter once again dropping below 16,000), even though Chinese CPI came below expectations suggesting the PBOC has some more room to ease and not rush into liquidity extraction (which just happens to blow out repo rates like clockwork), while in Japan BOJ board member Shirai implied the Japanese QE can be extended and expanded as needed. Europe had a weak start although shortly after 3 am Eastern staged a dramatic turnaround supported by a bounce in the EUR (and ES driving EURJPY) leading to broadly higher stocks, supported by solid demand for Portuguese 5y bond syndication, as well as oversubscribed debt auctions by the Spanish Treasury which sold above the targeted amount and consequently saw SP/GE 10y spread fall to its tightest level since April 2011. At the same time, having been propped up by touted redemption flows ahead of Spanish and French bond auctions, absorption of supply shortly after 1000GMT resulted in an immediate selling pressure on Bunds. Helping lift spirits was a rumored $1 billion trade order in September S&P futures, as well as chatter by the Greek PM that the country was like Portugal and Ireland, prepared to get back into the bond markets.

 


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23 Reasons To Be Bullish On Gold





It's been one of the worst years for gold in a generation. A flood of outflows from gold ETFs, endless tax increases on gold imports in India, and the mirage (albeit a convincing one in the eyes of many) of a supposedly improving economy in the US have all contributed to the constant hammering gold took in 2013. Perhaps worse has been the onslaught of negative press our favorite metal has suffered. It's felt overwhelming at times and has pushed even some die-hard goldbugs to question their beliefs... not a bad thing, by the way. To us, a lot of it felt like piling on, especially as the negative rhetoric ratcheted up. This is why it's important to balance the one-sided message typically heard in the mainstream media with other views. Here are some of those contrarian voices, all of which have put their money where their mouth is...

 


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Forbes Reveals Its "Top 30 Under 30" In Finance





With Trader Monthly magazine having, ironically, gone out business long ago, all those traders whose egos demanded that their insider trading connections put them at least in one of the iconic "Top X under X" league tables, pardon, rankings, had to bide their time in expectation of one day when their prowess to frontrun others or move markets with repeated calls to 555-7617 (with or without references to Anacott Steel) would be appreciated by such sterling Wall Street "experts" as Anthony Scaramucci. Well, for this year's crop of some 30 traders under 30, the day has arrived. And while Forbes may not be Trader Monthly, the amusement, the hubris and the behind the scenes dealing to appear in such a list, sure are still the same...

 


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Wall Street's Latest Investment: Ex-Convicts





Either the Volcker Rule is making Wall Street's menu of investment choices so unbearably limited, or traditional assets are so overpriced Wall Street won't even touch them with other people's money, but when it comes to allocating capital the smartest conmen in the room are coming up with some truly unorthodox products. Such as investing in ex-convicts in the form of 2000 newly released prisoners.

 


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'It's Not What You Know, It's Who You Know' As Frat Boys Dominate Wall Street





As students vie for 2014 internships, Bloomberg finds a fraternity-based network whose Wall Street alumni guide resumes to the tops of stacks, reveal interview questions with recommended answers, offer applicants secret mottoes and support chapters facing crackdowns. Despite apparent crackdowns on cronyism, nepotism, and fraternism; it seems nothing has changed as "secret handshakes" and the fraternity pipeline helps undergraduates beat odds three times steeper than Princeton University’s record-low acceptance rate... "People like people who are like themselves," notes one recruiter, seemingly proven by the fact that JPMorgan employs 140 Sigma Phi Epsilon members with BofA and Wells Fargo even more.

 


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