Big Bank Provides Positive Earnings Surprise

JPMorgan (JPM) reported today first-quarter earnings per share (EPS) of $2.65 vs. $2.35 a share, which was $0.30 above expectations.

The upside versus estimates was driven by better-than-expected markets and investment banking revenues. It is important to note that estimates for the quarter were at $2.52 a share before the company cautioned of weakness in market-making revenue during a presentation at a conference in late February. However, the bank likely had a strong March. An absence of needing to take a charge against earnings helped Q1 2019 EPS, compared to Q1 2018.

If I had one problem with the quarter, it is that consumer banking, the company’s largest segment, saw earnings decline 2% from the fourth quarter as loan growth flattened out. Still, earnings for this segment rose 19% year over year, and credit metrics were stable.

With recession fears perhaps fading, I see a better environment for bank stocks. I am raising my target price on JPM modestly to $114, a little more than 11X a realistic EPS estimate of $10.00 this year. My buy under price is now $102.

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