Like a picnic besieged by yellow jackets, Bank of America's financial results this year have shown appetizing signs that were difficult for investors to fully enjoy. The bank has slashed expenses, built a sturdy capital position, and gradually shifted away from volatile businesses toward stable and lucrative ones. But it has also been swarmed by massive litigation costs. They will sting again in the third quarter but then will quickly begin to clear away. Starting next year, BofA investors will get a glimpse of two things they haven't seen in years: a fairly clean income statement and a decent dividend.

By 2017, earnings per share could hit $2, versus an estimated 75 cents this year. More important, shareholders by then will have seen a string of steady increases in both earnings and dividend payments, with fewer and smaller legal surprises. They could be willing to pay $25 a share by that point, or 12.5 times earnings, versus a recent $17. Add a buck per share in cumulative dividends and BofA stock (ticker: BAC) could return 50% over the next three years, and perhaps sooner.