BofA shareholder meeting reflects change in tone despite accounting error

Published: May. 8, 2014 at 4:18 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 6, 2014 at 9:44 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Despite a $4 billion accounting mistake announced just days ago, Bank of America hosted a shareholder meeting Wednesday that seemed to suggest a shift in sentiment toward the company and its executives.

Protests outside the meeting were small and disjointed, and inside, shareholders spoke in praise of the bank almost as often as they criticized it.  While shareholders still had plenty to complain about, the sheer animosity aimed at BofA during the height of the economic slowdown is abating as the bank makes changes ranging from less fees associated with checking accounts to more help for mortgage customers.

"I think there was some happiness in the audience," shareholder Peggy McMahon said after the meeting. "And I have been told by the banking community that the stock will rise. When I go home, God willing…if my money permits…I will buy five to ten thousand more shares."

But how much those shares pay today is a fresh point controversy.

Last week, BofA announced it had miscalculated its capital ratios, and said that the mistake would keep it from issuing a long-awaited dividend increase that would have finally increased its penny-per-share rate to 5 cents.  CEO Brian Moynihan called the issue "disappointing to all of us," and Chief Financial Officer Bruce Thompson said it related to the Merrill Lynch mess, though the company is still "continuing to do root-cause analysis" to figure out how the massive accounting error happened.

All 15 directors were re-elected, and the bank's management proposals all ratified, including approval on executive compensation.  None of the shareholder proposals were approved, however, which included more disclosure on lobbying and deals that affect the environment.

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