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Taking Stock: Berko advises investor to bank his gains on Bank of America shares

Malcolm Berko: Bank of America a huge company, but not a wise investment, Berko says.
Published: July 7, 2013

Dear Mr. Berko: In February 2009, I bought 1,000 shares of Bank of America at $3 in my individual retirement account, and I've never made such a big profit in a stock. Please tell me whether I should sell the stock or I should continue to hold it for more gain. I am 66 and should have just enough in my IRA, in my defined-benefit plan and with Social Security to retire if I work for another three years, which I plan to do.

HG, Gainesville, Fla.

Dear HG: Sell 950 shares of Bank of America stock immediately, and keep 50 shares for old times' sake.

Bank of America (BAC-$13.40) — bah, humbug, yuck, yeech and urrgghh! — is an ignominiously immense commercial/global real estate services and equipment (commercial aircraft, data processors, container ships, oil rigs, sky cranes, refrigerated containers, etc.) financing and leasing conglomerate. BAC's 263,000 employees are also active in global wealth management services, treasury management, foreign banking, commercial lending and residential mortgages.

They also provide security clearance and custody services, debt and equity underwriting, commodity trading and hedging, currency trading, derivatives, and credit default swaps.

Of course, insurance, risk management products and services, stock brokerage, trust department services, municipal bond underwriting, fiduciary portfolio services, and credit card services are also important revenue functions.

And BAC's mindless minions are into option trading, mergers and acquisitions, private equity investments, debt securitization, inventory factoring, hedge fund management, and corporate advisory services. Other departments include cash management services, retirement and benefit plan services, currency trading, and carbon credit trading.

Then, as an afterthought, BAC manages 5,600 banking centers and 16,600 ATMs in 30 states. And from these venues, management will willy-nilly repossess your home and rip off small depositors with onerous credit card charges, horrendous personal loan add-on expenses, ugly fees to park money in checking accounts and then fees to get it back, and predatory bounced-check charges, which are a tort lawyer's dream.

Sadly, neither Brian Moynihan, its unpopular CEO, nor the dotty board of directors (whose members are paid an average of $290,000 to attend four meetings a year) has an inkling that BAC has the worst customer service in the industry.

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