NEW YORK (AP) — Bank of America, the consumer banking giant, said it swung to a profit in the third quarter on Wednesday, helped by lower borrowing costs and legal expenses.
The bank based in Charlotte, North Carolina, earned $4.1 billion, or 37 cents a share, for the three-month period ending in September. That compares with a loss of $470 million, or 4 cents a share, in the same period a year earlier. BofA booked $6 billion in legal expenses last year to help cover part of a $16.65 billion legal settlement it reached with the Department of Justice.
Revenue fell to $20.68 billion from $21.4 billion a year earlier.
BofA's lending business continued to improve in the third quarter. Its costs of lending fell, there were fewer delinquent loans and more customers borrowed money.
While the total amount of BofA's loans was roughly unchanged, the bank continued to dispose of troubled loans left over from the financial crisis and made more loans to businesses and individuals.
In a statement, CEO Brian Moynihan characterized the bank's latest results as "solid."
"The key drivers of our business — deposit taking and lending to both our consumer and corporate clients — moved in the right direction this quarter," Moynihan said.
Earnings at Bank of America's consumer banking division, by far its biggest business, climbed 5 percent. BofA said consumer borrowing increased broadly, a positive sign for the U.S. economy. Credit card issuance, mortgage originations and deposits in brokerage accounts all rose.
The bank's wealth and investment management division, Merrill Lynch, reported lower profits. Transaction revenue fell, which more than offset higher asset management fees.
Like JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America has been on an aggressive cost-cutting campaign, which has included branch closures and layoffs. The bank had 215,193 employees at the end of the third quarter, compared with 229,538 in 2014.
The bank also did better in its legacy assets and servicing division, which is where BofA put the bad mortgages and other toxic assets left over from the financial crisis. The division had a loss of $196 million in the quarter, but that's an improvement from a loss of $5.11 billion a year ago. The number of mortgages delinquent by 60 days or more fell by nearly half from a year ago to 114,000.
BofA's results beat analysts' expectations. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected Bank of America to earn 33 cents a share on revenue of $20.67 billion.
Bank of America's stock rose 12 cents to close at $15.64.