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Bank of America reported second-quarter earnings of 19 cents per share, down from 32 cents a share a year earlier.

Excluding $4 billion in legal costs, however, the bank reported earnings of 41 cents a share, beating analysts' estimates of 29 cents per share.

Bank of America (ticker: BAC) struggled with legal expenses, mostly due to fallout from mortgage lending in the runup to the financial crisis. The company says it has reached a $650 million settlement with AIG to resolve claims about mortgage-backed securities it sold before the financial meltdown.

The company's earnings follow a pattern set by Citigroup (C) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) earlier this week: Falling earnings from the previous 12 months, but better than expectations if you exclude one-time legal costs.

Total revenue fell 4%, to $22 billion, from a year previous.

Unike Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America showed an increase in revenue from its trading desks. Trading revenue was $2.4 billion in the second quarter, up 5% from the year earlier.

But revenue in its consumer real estate unit fell $725 million to $1.4 billion due to a drop in mortgage refinancings and reduced income from servicing mortgages.

Bank of America continued shrinking its payroll in the second quarter. Its employee count fell 9% from a year earlier to 233,201.

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