Banking

Stock price, dividend, equal pay: Moynihan gets an earful

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan got an earful on Wednesday from shareholders upset that the Charlotte lender’s stock price is not rising faster and that its dividend remains far below pre-financial crisis levels.
Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan got an earful on Wednesday from shareholders upset that the Charlotte lender’s stock price is not rising faster and that its dividend remains far below pre-financial crisis levels. ogaines@charlotteobserver.com

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan got an earful on Wednesday from shareholders upset that the Charlotte lender’s stock price is not rising faster and that its dividend remains far below pre-financial crisis levels.

Here’s some of what Moynihan heard on that and other topics at the bank’s annual shareholders meeting in SouthPark:

▪  More than one shareholder pointed out that the price of the bank’s shares, which have been trading for more than $16 in recent weeks, is a long way from the peak of more than $50 in 2006.

“I don’t know how you can say we’re doing good when the stock price has tanked,” said Judy Koenick, a shareholder who frequently criticizes Moynihan at the annual meetings.

Koenick said the drop in the stock’s price has cost her nearly $1.5 million. “I think you are part of the problem,” she told Moynihan, “and it’s time for you to retire.”

Based on their closing price of $16.29 Wednesday, the bank’s shares are down about 10 percent since the start of the year. But, Moynihan pointed out, they are up about 11 percent from a year ago.

Moynihan, seeking to reassure shareholders, told them that the bank has “one job” – continuing to boost the price of its stock.

Some shareholders also expressed frustration over the bank’s common quarterly dividend, which is 5 cents, below the 64 cents paid as recently as 2008.

“We continue to push the dividend,” Moynihan said. Since the financial crisis, Bank of America, like other large lenders, must get approval from the Federal Reserve before raising dividends.

▪ Amanda Starbuck, of the Rainforest Action Network, commended the bank for a new coal-mining policy announced Wednesday. Under the policy, the bank says it will continue to reduce its lending to the global coal-mining industry.

“It is a model that we would like to see other financial institutions follow,” Starbuck said.

▪ Natalie Clarke, an eighth-grader from Harrisburg, who missed school to attend the meeting, challenged Moynihan to “take an honest look” at any differences in the way the bank pays men and women.

She pointed to the often-cited finding that women in the U.S. make about 78 cents to every dollar earned by men.

Lauding Clarke for addressing the issue, Moynihan noted that the bank’s board and management team both include women.

“And believe me, these talented women that work for me would not let me not pay them fairly,” Moynihan said, prompting laughter from the audience.

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