JPMorgan, Goldman Holders Shift Focus to What They Dislike

Investment bankers inside Wall Street’s marquee firms are pulling in more money than just about ever before to prop up earnings. The response from shareholders: Look at all the other problems.

Record revenue generated by dealmakers at JPMorgan Chase & Co., and the second-best haul ever by their peers at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., failed to distract from a worse-than-expected slump in fixed-income trading, rapidly rising costs and uncertainties for the future. Both firms beat analysts’ profit estimates only to watch their stocks slide Tuesday.

JPMorgan, Goldman Holders Shift Focus to What They Dislike

While the results showed consumers are starting to emerge from pandemic lockdowns and that banks are finding ample opportunities to profit as companies adjust their businesses, investors dwelled on other issues. Will the flurry of activity on Wall Street force firms to boost pay? How long will it take to reverse stagnating demand for loans and recover from persistently low interest rates that weigh on lenders’ revenue?

Read more: JPMorgan, Goldman Fall as Inflation Offsets Results

“The bottom line: a solid quarter in the books, with market-related activity, consumer-spending levels, and credit quality all underscoring the strength and the speed of the economic recovery,” Susan Roth Katzke, an analyst at Credit Suisse Group AG, said in a note to clients about JPMorgan’s results. “When that strength manifests in higher interest rates and broad-based loan growth -- part two of the recovery -- is the outstanding question.”

JPMorgan fell 2.4% at 1 p.m. in New York, the third-worst performance in the KBW Bank Index of 24 major U.S. lenders. Goldman slipped 1.2%.

In many ways, the quarter was a reversal from a year ago, when traders reaped massive windfalls on wild market swings and the economic outlook was somewhere between murky and dire. Now, as that trading surge tapers, dealmakers are racing to keep up with demand as companies bolster finances, pursue takeovers and take other steps to realign their strategies for an improving landscape. Consumers are shopping and traveling again, too.

Bank stocks have baked much of that in already. The S&P 500 Financials Index was up 26% this year -- outpacing a 17% gain in the broader S&P 500 -- before JPMorgan and Goldman kicked off the industry’s midyear earnings reports. Investors were eager to find out what’s next.

JPMorgan emphasized there are uncertainties in forecasting net interest income. Consumers are spending more, but they’re doing it after receiving stimulus payments. That makes it harder to predict whether that increased spending will translate into higher balances on credit cards. The bank stuck by guidance for $52.5 billion in net interest income, after missing analyst estimates for the measure in the quarter.

JPMorgan, Goldman Holders Shift Focus to What They Dislike

JPMorgan’s costs climbed 4% to $17.67 billion, topping the $17.45 billion average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Expenses will probably jump 6.5% to $71 billion for the full year, the bank said.

The bank’s higher expenses and its net interest income miss “could overwhelm an otherwise strong 2Q,” despite its positive performance in other areas, said Steven Chubak, an analyst at Wolfe Research.

The expense jump may partially come amid pressure on Wall Street to pay competitively amid the deluge of deals. The corporate and investment bank has been hiring to keep up with customer demand. The division’s headcount climbed 2% to 64,261 during the quarter.

“If we can hire great bankers, we’re going to spend it,” JPMorgan Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon told analysts on a conference call. “We do not manage the company so we can tell analysts what the expense number is going to be. That is just a bad way to run the company.”

The bank’s fees from underwriting and advisory jumped 25% to $3.57 billion, handily beating the $3.13 billion average of analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Advisory fees alone jumped 52% to $916 million.

Both JPMorgan and Goldman noted that the spread of Covid-19’s delta variant is creating uncertainty that could affect the recovery and dealmaking -- though they stopped far short of foreshadowing another downturn.

“Our backlog levels remain extremely high,” Goldman CEO David Solomon told analysts on a conference call. It feels as if demand will last, he said. “Obviously if there was some sort of disruption or economic slowdown sometime in the future that would wear on confidence and slow that, but that doesn’t seem likely.”

For Goldman Sachs, the flurry of initial public offerings in the second quarter helped boost total investment banking fees 26% to $3.45 billion, well above the $2.92 billion average of analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The firm said it was also aided by a jump in the number of completed mergers and acquisitions.

The firm shaved almost $2 billion in expenses from a year earlier -- when legal costs were elevated -- but that was still less than analysts anticipated. Costs for paying employees were up 18% from a year earlier, though the firm noted that rose in tandem with revenue.

Both firms’ traders, meanwhile, have struggled to repeat last year’s dizzying performance. Revenue from trading fixed income, currencies and commodities dropped by roughly 45% at both JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.