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Last Updated: Monday, 23 January 2006, 18:08 GMT
Bankruptcies hit Bank of America
Bank of America ATMs
Bank of America bought MBNA last year for $35bn
Bank of America, the second-largest US bank, has posted its first quarterly profits fall for more than four years as personal bankruptcies mount.

The North Carolina-based bank said net income fell 2% to $3.77bn (2.11bn), down from $3.85bn a year earlier.

Profit was 94 cents a share, excluding merger and restructuring costs, missing forecasts of $1.02 a share.

Revenues, meanwhile, rose 3% to $14.12bn, below forecasts of $14.59bn, the bank stated.

A surge in bankruptcy filings, ahead of more stringent creditor-friendly laws introduced last year, increased credit losses by $524m.

This was higher than forecast.

However, the bank reported a "notable drop" in bankruptcies since then.

Slow year

Meanwhile, rising short-term rates drove up borrowing costs but long-term rates were little changed, making it more difficult to charge more on lending.

Trading profits dropped, it reported, while the firm spent more on hiring bankers and sales people, which slashed earnings at its investment division by 80%.

Looking ahead, the Bank said it also expected slower profits growth in 2006.

"There will be strong years, and there will be slower years, and this will be a slower year," said chief financial officer Alvaro De Molina.

He cited "the head-winds of the interest rate environment, coupled with a trend toward normalization of credit costs" for the earnings forecast.

Shares in Bank of America were down 2.1% on Monday morning at $44.19 a share.

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