Financial Sector Review: FINRA Fines Merrill Lynch, Piper Jaffray Earnings

Westfield Financial, Inc. (NASDAQ:WFD): The allowance for loan losses was $7.8M at December 31, 2011 and $6.9M at December 31, 2010. This represents 1.40% and 1.36% of total loans at December 31, 2011, respestively. Loans delinquent 30 89 days decreased $15M to $1.8M at December 31, 2011 from $16.8M at December 31, 2010.

The shares closed at $7.78, down $0.42, or 5.12%, on the day. Its market capitalization is $214.91 million.

Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC): FINRA announced that it has fined Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith $1M for failing to arbitrate disputes with employees relating to retention bonuses. Registered representatives who participated in the bonus program had to sign a promissory note that prevented them from arbitrating disagreements relating to the note, forcing the registered representatives to resolve disputes in New York state courts. FINRA found that Merrill Lynch, after merging with Bank of America in January 2009, implemented a bonus program to retain certain high-producing registered representatives and purposely structured it to circumvent the requirement to institute arbitration proceedings with employees when it sought to collect unpaid amounts from any of the registered representatives who later left the firm.

The shares closed at $7.35, up $0.06, or 0.82%, on the day. Its market capitalization is $77.44 billion.

Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C) said it may further cut its securities and banking unit this year if revenue doesn’t pick up meaningfully.

The shares closed at $29.96, up $0.06, or 0.2%, on the day. Its market capitalization is $87.60 billion.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC): The Futures Industry Association, which includes large banks and small brokerage firms, announced that it had created a committee to examine new ways of preserving futures’ investors money, in the wake of the MF Global incident, The New York Times reported yesterday. The committee will weigh implementing tougher internal controls, and requiring regular reports to customers, the newspaper said.

JPM shares closed at $37.60, down $0.06, or 0.16%, on the day. Its market capitalization is $141.85 billion.

WFC shares closed at $30.20, down $0.34, or 1.11%, on the day. Its market capitalization is $158.93 billion.

WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE:WLP): On January 24, 2012, the Board of Directors increased the Company’s dividend by 15% and declared a quarterly dividend to shareholders for the first quarter of 2012 of $0.2875 per share. The first quarter dividend is payable on March 23, 2012, to shareholders of record at the close of business on March 9, 2012.

The shares closed at $66.10, down $3.3, or 4.76%, on the day. Its market capitalization is $22.99 billion.

Piper Jaffray Companies (NYSE:PJC) reported Q4 revenue $99.2M vs. consensus $119.92M.

The shares closed at $21.21, down $3.57, or 14.41%, on the day. Its market capitalization is $406.61 million.

World Acceptance Corp. (NASDAQ:WRLD) reported Q3 revenue $135.9M vs. consensus $139.55M

The shares closed at $66.16, down $5.51, or 7.69%, on the day. Its market capitalization is $968.75 million.

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