Daily Brief: JPMorgan Was Up Against A Very Familiar Task Last Quarter

Daily Brief: JPMorgan Was Up Against A Very Familiar Task Last Quarter

almost 2 years ago3 mins

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JPMorgan reported worse-than-expected quarterly earnings on Wednesday, after the US bank was forced to go through the motions all over again.

What does this mean?

JPMorgan has spent the last few quarters funneling “loan loss reserves” – funds it set aside in case pandemic-hit customers couldn’t pay their debts – back into its coffers. But last quarter, it had to rebuild a near-$1 billion pile of them, as inflation and higher interest rates caused the risk of defaults to rise. Those interest rate hikes did benefit the bank, in fairness: there was a 7% uptick in net interest income compared to the same time last year. But with revenue from investment banking falling by a worse-than-expected 28%, any positive sounds were drowned out: the bank’s overall profit fell by 42%. JPMorgan was cautious in its outlook too, and investors – unappeased by the approval of a $30 billion share buyback program – sent its stock down.

JPMorgan stock

Why should I care?

The bigger picture: All banks for one, one bank for all.

Investors had already been anticipating that JPMorgan’s investment banking revenue would drop off, as higher interest rates and lower stock prices deterred companies from striking deals and listing on the stock market. But its results also showed something unexpected: that the toll of loan loss reserves offset most of the benefit from higher interest rates. And since JPMorgan is the first of the big US banks to report its quarterly earnings, that could set the tone for what’s to come…

Zooming out: Financial firms aren’t all in the same boat.

Some financial firms are going to be just fine: BlackRock – the world’s biggest investment manager – announced on Wednesday that investors poured a net $114 billion more into its range of funds. And since it makes money from the fees charged on those investments, its profit jumped by a better-than-expected 18% compared to the same time last year.

BlackRock inflows

Keep reading for our next story...

Grocery Giant Tesco Reported Strong Yearly Results

Tesco image

Tesco posted strong full-year results on Wednesday, but the UK’s biggest supermarket chain has a target on its back…

What does this mean?

The odds a grocery retailer would sustain its mid-pandemic momentum were slim, but Tesco has risen to the challenge: its sales are still going strong, while the cost of Covid-related cleaning and maintenance have been coming down. That led the retailer to deliver a pre-tax profit of more than three times as high as the year before. Tesco is, of course, well aware that higher prices are eating into shoppers’ budgets, and it’s duly warned that this profit could drop off this year. But it has a plan to nip that in the bud: the company’s looking to cut jobs and revamp overnight operations, all in view of saving around $1.3 billion over the next three years.

Why should I care?

For you personally: Rivalry is healthy.

Tesco has stiff competition in the form of German discount grocers like Aldi, which last month hit a record market share of the UK grocery market. That’s put pressure on Tesco to protect its spot at the top of the food chain, which is no bad thing for you: it’s being forced to keep prices low to stay competitive, meaning it’ll absorb some of the record-high food costs rather than pass them on to you.

Market share
Source: Kantar

The bigger picture: Will it ever end?

Another day, another calamitous inflation reading: data out on Wednesday showed that UK consumer prices rose by a higher-than-expected 7% last month compared to the year before – a 30-year high. Prices were up in every category, with a quarter of them seeing lurches of more than 10%. Consider too that April is the first month where the government has lifted its energy price cap, and you can probably see where this is going…

UK inflation
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