First-quarter expenses totaled about 60 percent of revenue, the best ratio in more than five years. That helped push profit above analysts' estimates, and corporate tax cuts spurred earnings to a record. Net interest income got a bigger boost than expected from higher interest rates, but fixed-income trading disappointed.
Improvements in the cost ratio will "continue to be the gift that keeps on giving for the stock as BAC continues its responsible growth agenda," Glenn Schorr, a bank analyst at Evercore ISI, wrote in a note, referring to the company by its stock ticker. "The BAC steady improvement story seems very much intact."