Market Cap Casts Doubt on BofA's Books: The Ticker

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By Jonathan Weil

The global plunge in equities, which has hit financial stocks especially hard, is producing some strange anomalies for anyone curious to compare how banks value their assets with how markets do. Bank of America Corp., for example, is trading for $9.13 as I write this, down about 4 percent for the day. That gives the company a stock-market capitalization of $92.4 billion, or a paltry 45 percent of common shareholder equity.

That market cap is now less than the $92.9 billion of so-called intangible assets on Bank of America's balance sheet as of June 30, which included $71.1 billion of goodwill. (Goodwill is the accounting entry a company records when it pays a premium price to buy another.) So to believe Bank of America's books, the intangibles -- most of which are not saleable assets -- are worth more than what the market says the entire company is worth. That's a fancy way of saying investors believe huge writedowns are still needed.

And to think that Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan says the company doesn't need to raise capital.

-0- Aug/04/2011 18:09 GMT