JPMorgan Chase and Company (NYSE:JPM) leads the parade of earnings from large financial companies Friday, with results many expect to be a beacon in what's anticipated to be a dismal earnings season.
Barring any surprises, analysts expect JPMorgan’s results to substantially improve from last year, when a highly stressed global financial system meant the company’s capital markets and trading operations badly underperformed.
Analysts expect New York-based JPMorgan, the nation’s largest bank by assets, to report profit of $4.67 billion, or $1.21 a share, on revenue of $24.53 billion. That would represent an increase of 19.1 percent on income and a marginal spike of 0.7 percent on revenue.
The rise in income is seen as coming mainly from an improvement in its investment bank, as opposed to its consumer loan book or commercial lending operations. And they’re also likely to reflect some deep cost-cutting.
“Banks can only do so much to improve returns without the use of leverage or higher revenues so comp[ensation] expense and headcount will likely be the main levers as non-comp expense drift higher with regulatory costs,” bank analyst Glenn Schorr of Japanese bank Nomura recently told The Wall Street Journal, in reference to JPMorgan and other large banks.
Still, revenue is seen rising in key areas including foreign-exchange and fixed-income trading, where big bets on the possibility of further monetary stimulus from the U.S. central bank are likely to have paid off.
Not that there aren’t potential pitfalls. Key among them is the blowback from the large losses in the bank’s internal trading unit announced earlier as a result of the so-called “London Whale” debacle, which caused a multibillion-dollar write-off last quarter. The bank said that could prompt additional losses ranging from $800 million to $1.6 billion.
There’s also the much-maligned “debt value adjustment” accounting rules that cause massive one-time swings in the bank’s reported profit every quarter, and which should have a negative effect this time.
"Expect sizeable DVA losses this quarter," Betsy Graseck, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, wrote in a recent report.
The mood on JPMorgan overall, however, is cautiously optimistic, with shares trading at levels just over where they were before tumbling under the weight of the London Whale episode in May.
Shares of JPMorgan Chase enjoyed a big rally in New York-listed financial stocks on Thursday, leading all of its peer institutions save for Citigroup (NYSE: C). They rose 55 cents to $42.32 near midday, up about 27 percent in 2012.