Why JPMorgan Chase Could Be Headed for a Strong Third Quarter


By Bram Berkowitz, Motley Fool

JPMorgan Chase's (NYSE:JPM) CFO Jennifer Piepszak recently spoke at the Barclays Global Financial Services Conference, giving investors a glimpse into what they can expect from the bank in the third quarter. "While things do look a little bit better than we thought they would, we're still dealing with an enormous amount of uncertainty looking ahead," she said .

Although Piepszak spoke with a backdrop of caution, I believe much of the guidance she provided suggests that America's largest bank could be headed for a strong third quarter, given the circumstances. Let's take a look:

JPMorgan Chase


Revenue and expenses

Piepszak said the bank had revised its guidance on net interest income (NII) down from $56 billion to about $55 billion for the year, primarily because the bank is seeing higher payment rates on credit cards, which isn't a bad thing. Because we know JPMorgan did roughly $28.3 billion in NII through the first six months of 2020, and that total NII is expected to be $55 billion on the year, you can expect NII in the third and fourth quarter to average out to $13.35 billion ($55B-$28.3/2). That's about $500 million lower than the second quarter, but really not bad, considering the low interest-rate environment, which reduces the margins banks can make on loans. Piepszak added that capital deployment opportunities are harder to find right now despite huge deposit growth .

On the non-interest income side, which includes the bank's corporate and investment bank division, Piepszak said to expect markets revenue to be up 20% year over year. Markets revenue in the third quarter of 2019 was about $5.07 billion, so that means to expect markets revenue of roughly $6.09 billion. It's not the massive $9.7 billion JPMorgan did in the second quarter but still very good.

Piepszak also said to expect investment banking fees to be up mid- to single-digits year over year, which could put it on pace to exceed more than $2 billion in investment banking fees. That would be the highest quarter for investment banking fees aside from last quarter when the bank's corporate and investment bank division delivered jaw-dropping revenue numbers .

On the expense side, Piepszak revised up expenses from $65 billion for the year to $66 billion, mostly as a result of better-than-anticipated revenue and volume, which again is not the worst thing. While you may not see the record-breaking revenue from the second quarter, it still looks like JPMorgan is set to deliver solid net revenue with non-interest revenue exceeding expectations and NII a little bit lower.

No meaningful provision

Perhaps the biggest reason that JPMorgan could potentially produce higher earnings than last quarter is because there will likely be close to no reserve build for the upcoming quarter, according to Piepszak. Last quarter, JPMorgan built reserves, which are set aside to cover future potential loan losses, by close to $9 billion. The quarter before, it built reserves by nearly $6.8 billion. These reserves eat directly into earnings, so if Piepszak is correct about seeing virtually no reserve build, it could give the bank a huge boost from the last two quarters even if revenue is not as high.

Piepszak also provided an update on loan forbearances. She said the company had about $42 billion left, about $17 billion of which are on the balance sheet and mostly on the home lending side. The remainder is likely deferrals of mortgages the bank services and that are not on the balance sheet.

This is an improvement from June 30 when the bank had $28 billion in retained loan deferrals on the consumer side. However, progress on wholesale loan deferrals is a little less clear. JPMorgan had deferred about $17 billion in this folder as of June 30, more than half of which were auto loans. Piepszak said the majority of borrowers on deferral in the card and auto segments had reached the end of their deferral periods, and less than one-fifth of each category had reenrolled .

Long-term uncertainty remains

While I think the bank's third quarter has strong prospects and the potential to beat earnings from last quarter, the banking industry is not out of the woods yet. A few days before Piepszak presented at the conference, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon reportedly told an analyst that the economic recovery could stumble if there is another significant rise in coronavirus cases, or from factors relating to the election, and if there is not more government intervention.

Banks are closely linked to the economy, and stocks really trade based on the future. But continuing to produce solid quarters during a pandemic and a recession will only help JPMorgan's stock.

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