After getting pummeled by market forces for the better part of last year, the lights are starting to flicker back on at Bank of America. The nation's second largest lender's earnings beat analyst estimates and profit rose "excluding certain line items," Bloomberg reports, thanks to "a rebound in trading and better credit quality." The bank's shares jumped in early morning trading but remained basically flat after the bell. So is it good news or bad news for the company? That depends on how you read the charts.
A BoA rebound is not how The New York Times' Nelson D. Schwartz reads the charts just before the bell. Under the headline "Profit at Bank of America Falls to $653 Million in First Quarter," Schwartz focused on those line items that were not so good. That $653 million number actually refers to BoA's net income, which is down, though the bank is actually losing less money than it used to -- hence, the bullish outlook on Wall Street. Globally, the bank did okay: "The company’s global markets unit swung to a profit of $798 million, compared with a loss of $768 million in the fourth quarter. Revenue at the division, which includes Bank of America Merrill Lynch, more than doubled from the fourth quarter but was down from the first quarter a year ago." So Bank of America isn't as bad as it used to be, which is exactly what CEO Brian Moynihan would want you to think.