Here’s the Big Surprise in J.P. Morgan’s Better Than Expected Earnings

July 14, 2016, 11:51 AM UTC

Jamie Dimon

Chairman and CEO, J.P. Morgan Chase --Returnee Dimon's had a rough second half, but remember, in early 2013 he survived a proxy fight to strip him of his chairmanship.
Photo by Chris Ratcliffe — Bloomberg

Jamie Dimon has something to dance about.

J.P. Morgan’s earning rose 24% in the second quarter of 2016 from the quarter before. That was better than analysts were expecting. The bank’s revenue from its continuing businesses was up 5% from the previous quarter. Shares of J.P. Morgan were up nearly 2% in pre-market trading to $64.30.

The Big Number: J.P. Morgan (JPM) earned $6.2 billion, or $1.55 a share, in the second quarter of the year. That was better than the $1.43, according to Bloomberg, that analysts were expecting the bank to earn. But the big surprise was the fact that J.P. Morgan’s revenue jumped as well. Many had suspected that continued low interest rates, and the uncertainty around Brexit would translate into lackluster sales for J.P. Morgan and other banks in the quarter. Instead, J.P. Morgan boosted lending by 23% in the quarter, leading to a big revenue surprise.

What it Means: Despite the reasonably healthy economy, the past few quarters have been rough for banks. Low interest rates have meant that banks are bringing in less and less from lending. And with interest rates now looking like they will stay in the gutter, many suspecting banks would continue to struggle. But J.P. Morgan’s earnings suggest that may not be the case, or perhaps won’t be the case for the biggest bank in the nation by assets. At $25.2 billion in revenue for the quarter, J.P. Morgan becomes the first bank in the U.S. to potentially pass the $100 million mark in revenue.

What You May Have Missed: Despite the good earnings, there was some bad news for J.P. Morgan. The bank increased what it expected to lose from bad loans to $1.4 billion, up from $935 million just three months ago. Most of that increase came from one sector, energy. And with oil prices stabilizing things are likely to get much worse right now. But that’s a big jump, and if it were to continue, or in loan losses were to spread to other sectors it signal a major problem for J.P. Morgan and the economy in general.

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