FleetBoston Financial Corp., which is being bought by Bank of America Corp., on Thursday said fourth-quarter profit nearly tripled, helped by increased fees and improved loan credit quality.
The No. 7 U.S. bank also said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission may take civil action against its Columbia Management Advisors and Columbia Funds Distributor Inc. units. The SEC alleges that some mutual fund prospectuses failed to disclose certain trading activity in fund shares, Fleet said.
The Boston company said net income rose to $732 million, or 68 cents per share, from $261 million, or 24 cents per share, a year earlier. Analysts polled by Reuters Research, a unit of Reuters Group Plc, on average forecast per-share profit of 64 cents.
Revenue rose 7 percent to $3.07 billion.
Pending J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.'s planned purchase of Bank One Corp., announced Wednesday, the acquisition of Fleet by No. 3 Bank of America would create a U.S. bank second in size only to Citigroup Inc.
Fleet for more than a year had been repositioning itself as a consumer bank that takes fewer lending risks. In November, it bought electronics retailer Circuit City Stores Inc.'s bank-affiliated credit card portfolio for about $1.3 billion.
For all of 2003, Fleet said net income more than doubled to $2.6 billion, or $2.45 per share.
Fleet shares closed Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange at $43.08. The shares have risen 56 percent in the last year, compared with a 14 percent rise in the Standard & Poor's banks index.