JP Morgan (JPM) Holds The Line For The Banking Industry, Again

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Analysts have been concerned that JP Morgan (JPM), considered the most successful of the large US banks, might miss its numbers and turn in a loss

The financial firm held the line and left some hope that the entire industry may not fall into another chaotic and destructive round of losses and government rescues.

Citigroup (C) and Bank of America (BAC) has already said their most recent quarters were tough and they may need more outside capital. By contrast, JP Morgan made money and matched Wall St. analysts’ estimates.

The bank reported fourth-quarter 2008 net income of $702 million, compared with net income of $3.0 billion in the fourth quarter of 2007. Earnings per share were $0.07, compared with $0.86 in the fourth quarter of 2007.

Jamie Dimon, JPM”s CEO said that some of his firm’s businesses did have a hard quarter. These included leveraged loans, derivatives and trading. But, he added "the integration of our recently-acquired Washington Mutual franchise has progressed well, and we continued to grow in Treasury & Securities Services and Commercial Banking. We also opened millions of new checking and credit card accounts, experienced net inflows in assets under management, and gained Investment Banking market share in all major fee categories."

Between the lines, Dimon was saying that a bank built well by M&A transactions, even in a difficult period, can prosper, at least compared to the competition. By contrast to what has happened at Bank of America and Citigroup, it was a message that management count.

The financial supermarket concept is not dead. It was just ruined for a time by people who did not know what they were doing.

Douglas A. McIntyre