MBIA Inc. (MBI), Bank of America Corp (BAC) Up Big: Here’s Why

Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC)The Dow Jones Industrial Average (Dow Jones Indices:.DJI) is basically unchanged today, up just four points as of 1:25 p.m. EDT. The S&P 500 is up 0.21%. Meanwhile, Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) is up more than 4% after reports surfaced that the bank will settle its litigation with MBIA Inc. (NYSE:MBI).

Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC)’s stock is up 64% in the past year versus a 15% gain for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (Dow Jones Indices:.DJI). Yet many investors think the stock is undervalued, having been held back by the numerous lawsuits Bank of America is involved in. Fool contributor John Maxfield took an in-depth look at Bank of America’s legal woes in a five-part series. One of the main breach-of-contract claims against the bank came from monoline insurance companies, including MBIA Inc. (NYSE:MBI), that insured mortgage-backed securities originated by Countrywide, which Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) bought in 2008.

The situation between the two companies is complicated. MBIA Inc. (NYSE:MBI) wants Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) to refund it for $3 billion in claims on mortgage-backed securities, plus interest and legal fees that the insurer says demonstrated “indisputable material breaches” of the standards set by the insurer. In a separate case, Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) says MBIA could owe it up to $6 billion for insurance on certain derivatives. However, MBIA doesn’t have enough cash to pay that claim after the insurer split up its unhealthy MBS insurance business from its healthy municipal-bond insurance business.

The case hadn’t been looking good for Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC), and last month things got worse. MBIA won a victory in a New York appellate court that decided sponsors of mortgage-backed securities cannot use the housing bubble as an excuse not to take responsibility for the misrepresented quality of their loans. The court also said MBIA did not need to wait for loans to default before making sponsors buy them back. MBIA’s stock has been slowly dropping as the case drags on, hitting a 52-week low last week after a judge denied a motion that would have held Bank of America responsible for all of Countrywide’s problems.

Today Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) is making big gains after The Wall Street Journal reported that the megabank will pay MBIA $1.7 billion, give the company a $500 million credit line, and take a 5% stake in MBIA’s holding company to settle the lawsuits. Neither company has yet confirmed or denied the reports. MBIA is up almost 45% on the news.

The article Bank of America Makes Big Gains on Report of Legal Settlement originally appeared on Fool.com and is written by Dan Dzombak.

Dan Dzombak can be found on Twitter @DanDzombak or on his Facebook page, DanDzombak. He owns shares of Bank of America. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America.

Copyright © 1995 – 2013 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.