JPMorgan shares pull back by 4% even after fourth-quarter profit tops estimates


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JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon listens as he is introduced at the Boston College Chief Executives Club luncheon in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., November 23, 2021.
Brian Snyder | Reuters

JPMorgan Chase on Friday posted profit that exceeded analysts’ expectations on a benefit from better-than-expected credit losses and as loan growth returned to parts of the firms’ business.

Here are the numbers:

Earnings: $3.33 a share, vs. estimate $3.01, according to Refinitiv.
Revenue: $30.35 billion, vs. estimate $29.9 billion.

Shares of the bank dipped 4.2% in premarket trading. JPMorgan said it took a $1.8 billion net benefit from releasing reserves for loan losses that never materialized; without that 47 cent per share boost, earnings would have been $2.86 per share.

The bank’s CFO Jeremy Barnum issued new guidance on Friday, saying that management expected “headwinds” of higher expenses and moderating Wall Street revenue to cause the company’s returns to dip from recent years. That means it’s likely the bank will miss the firm’s 17% target for returns on capital, he told reporters on a conference call.

“Over the next one to two years, we expect to earn modestly below that target as the headwinds likely exceed the tailwinds,” Barnum said, adding that the target is still valid over the “medium term.”

JPMorgan will see expenses climb 8% to about $77 billion in 2022, Barnum added, driven by “inflationary pressures” and $3.5 billion in investments.

“It is true that labor markets are tight, that there’s a little bit of labor inflation, and its important for us to attract and retain the best talent and pay competitively according to performance,” Barnum said in response to a question about rising compensation costs.

After setting aside billions of dollars for loans losses earlier in the pandemic, JPMorgan benefited as it steadily released the funds as borrowers held up better than expected. But CEO Jamie Dimon has said he doesn’t consider the accounting benefit a core part of business results. Even when including the boost, JPMorgan posted the smallest earnings beat in the past seven quarters.

“The economy continues to do quite well despite headwinds related to the Omicron variant, inflation and supply chain bottlenecks,” Dimon said in the release. “Credit continues to be healthy with exceptionally low net charge-offs, and we remain optimistic on U.S. economic growth.”

While companywide revenue rose a modest 1% in the quarter to $30.35 billion as a slowdown in markets revenue was offset by robust investment banking fees, non-interest expenses shot up 11% to $17.9 billion on rising compensation costs, the bank said. That was higher than the $17.63 billion estimate of analysts surveyed by FactSet.

JPMorgan executives have previously talked about the need to invest in technology and pay employees after a booming year on Wall Street; still, analysts may ask management about the trajectory of expenses this year.

“JPMorgan’s results were surprisingly weak and were hampered by uncharacteristically poor expense management,” Octavio Marenzi, CEO of consultancy Opimas LLC, said in an emailed statement.

Government stimulus programs during the pandemic left consumers and businesses flush, resulting in stagnant loan growth and prompting Dimon to say last year that loan growth was “challenged.” But analysts have pointed to a rebound in the fourth quarter, driven by demand from corporations and credit card borrowers.

JPMorgan chief operating officer Daniel Pinto said last month during a conference that fourth-quarter trading revenue was headed for a 10% drop, driven by a decline in fixed income activity from record levels.

Trading revenue slowed further than expected, however, dropping 13% to $6.3 billion in the quarter, the bank said. That was driven largely by a slowdown on bond trading desks. Investment banking helped with a 37% jump in investment banking fees.

The bank was forced to pay $200 million in fines last month to settle charges that its Wall Street division allowed workers to use messaging apps to circumvent record keeping laws.

Analysts may also ask the bank about the impact of its recent decision to rein in overdraft fees. JPMorgan said last month that it would give customers a grace period to avoid the punitive fees, a move that along with other changes will have a “not insignificant” hit to revenue.

Shares of JPMorgan have climbed 6.2% this year before Friday, lagging the 11.6% rise of the KBW Bank Index.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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