Big jump in profits for JP Morgan

Banking giant JP Morgan Chase reported on Friday a big jump in net profit to US$3.


27 billion dollars in the fourth quarter of 2009, highlighting renewed health in the troubled sector.

The New York-based financial giant doubled its profits for the full year to US$11.7 billion dollars, and quadrupled the numbers put up in the fourth quarter of 2008.

The results highlight a return to health in the banking sector after more than a year of crisis, but were expected to fuel public resentment over hefty profits and compensation of firms bailed out by the government and at a time when much of the US economy continues to struggle and unemployment remains high.

Chairman and chief executive Jamie Dimon said he was “gratified” by the results but said they “fell short of both an adequate return on capital and the firm’s earnings potential.”

“While we are seeing some stability in delinquencies, consumer credit costs remain high, and weak employment and home prices persist. Accordingly, we remain cautious,” he said in a statement.

The profit for the quarter amounted to 74 cents a shares, better than the 62 cents expected by analysts.

Revenues in the period rose to US25.2 billion dollars from US19.1 billion dollars a year earlier for the banking group, one of the strongest to emerge from the global financial crisis.

For 2009, the profit was US11.7 billion dollars on US100.4 billion in revenues, up from earnings of US5.6 billion dollars in 2008 on revenues of US67.3 billion.

The results come with banks in focus for hefty executive pay schemes — which some blame for encouraging risky practices that led to the global crisis.

Bonuses not included in earnings report

The earnings report for JPMorgan Chase did not include specific bonus amounts, but reports have indicated that many banks are set to pay record bonuses.

A Wall Street Journal analysis found Wall Street banks and securities firms were on track to pay employees US145 billion dollars for 2009, a record amount.

President Barack Obama on Thursday proposed a tax or fee to be assessed on major banks that would recoup the government’s bailout for the sector.

JPMorgan, the second largest bank by assets, said its investment banking arm posted a profit of US1.9 billion dollars for the quarter, rebounding from a loss a year earlier. Another big profit driver was corporate and private equity, with US1.2 billion dollars.

But its retail banking including home lending lost US399 million dollars and credit card operations lost US306 million.

Commercial banking operations resulted in a profit of US224 million dollars while Treasury and securities operations earned US237 million.

Despite Dimon’s comments, some analysts said the banking giant was hitting its stride.

“The bank blew through expectations,” said Douglas McIntyre at 24/7 Wall Street.

That leaves a lot for Bank of America and Citigroup to live up to.”

Profits follow government repayment

Last year, JPMorgan Chase repaid the US Treasury for an injection of US25 billion dollars in capital under a program to stabilize the financial system.

The repayments, which included dividends, freed the banks from government-imposed compensation restrictions.

Still, public anger has been boiling over at pay scheme that are blamed for fueling the crisis.

Obama unveiled his fee Thursday, saying the new fee on risky assets of big financial institutions was a way to recoup the cost of a massive bailout of the sector than began in 2008.

The plan, which requires congressional approval, would raise 90 billion dollars over 10 years and could be kept for 12 years to offset the full 117 billion dollar shortfall now estimated for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

“We want our money back and we are going to get it,” Obama said, adding that his determination “is only heightened when I see reports of massive profits and obscene bonuses at some of the very firms who owe their continued existence to the American people.”

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