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JPMorgan, Wells Fargo and Citigroup are part of Zacks Earnings Preview

Zacks Equity Research
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For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – April 16, 2018 – Zacks.com releases the list of companies likely to issue earnings surprises. This week’s list includes JPMorgan JPM, Wells Fargo WFC and Citigroup C.

To see more earnings analysis, visit https://at.zacks.com/?id=3207.

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Why Is the Market Unimpressed with Bank Earnings?

The market appears to be painting JPMorgan with the same brush as Wells Fargo and Citigroup after their quarterly releases, but the fact is that JPMorgan’s report represented all around strength and offers useful read-throughs for what to expect from pure-play investment banks, trust banks and regional operators in the coming days.

It isn’t hard to appreciate the market’s negative reaction to the Wells and Citi reports, but the post-release weakness in JPMorgan shares is likely nothing more than a sell-the-news type of mindset. There is likely a comparability ground for the market’s lack of appreciation for these results as well. Two new accounting rules took effect this quarter, one dealing with revenue recognition on the asset management side and the other dealing with the valuation of ‘hard-to-price’ securities on the balance sheets. The earnings releases specify the impact of these rule changes, but they add to the ‘noise’ around these results.

Wells Fargo didn’t seem to benefit much from higher interest rates as rival JPMorgan did, likely indicating that the beleaguered bank had the wrong type of interest rate hedges in place. The bank is in the process of concluding a regulatory settlement that will require a restatement of today’s results in the coming days, but management wasn’t able to shed any more light on that issue beyond indicating that more details should be available in the 10Q. As such, it’s hard to read too much into Wells’ Q1 report as it will undergo a restatement in the coming days

We recently made a contrarian call on Wells by adding it to the Zacks Focus List, our core thesis being that worst was already priced in the stock and the market will slowly be coming around to appreciating this fact. The internals of the Wells report indicate that the estimate revisions trend for the current and coming quarters will likely be negative, in contrast to what can reasonably be expected for JPMorgan and Citi, which will keep the stock under pressure. This means that our Focus List call on Wells may have been premature, with the stock’s underperformance relative to its peers likely to persist a lot longer than we envisaged.

Wells’ net interest margin, the difference between what it pays depositors and what it charges borrowers, was flat from the preceding quarter and down from the year-earlier level. Growth in the bank’s loan portfolio and expenses also compare unfavorably with its peers. Wells’ loan portfolio was down from the year-earlier level while the same at Citi and JPMorgan were up +7% and 8%, respectively.

Citi’s results failed to impress as well, with the bank’s trading business, particularly the fixed income desk, failed to fully capitalize on the all-around volatility in Q1. Unlike JPMorgan’s +8% revenue growth in the fixed income, currencies and commodities or FICC business, Citi’s FICC revenue was down -7% in Q1.

Finance Sector Scorecard (as of Friday, April 13th)

We now have Q1 results from 5 of the 98 Finance sector companies in the S&P 500 index. Keep in mind however that these 5 companies account for 23.7% of the sector’s total market capitalization in the index.

Total earnings for these 5 Finance companies are up +20.4% from the same period last year on +6.9% higher revenue growth, with 100% beating EPS estimates and 60% beating revenue estimates.

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