JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) is on a tear this morning, as shares opened higher and continued gaining ground early in trading. Just after 10 a.m. EDT, the bank is up 3%. Following yesterday's shareholder meeting and an added bonus from management, investors may be eager to get their hands on the shares.
A quick look around
With the Congressional testimony of Ben Bernanke just underway, the banks will likely get a boost from his comments that the Fed will not end or cut back its current stimulus plan. So far, the other Big Four banks are in positive territory, but trailing JPMorgan:
- The overall KBW Bank Index (DJINDICES: ^BKX ) is up 1.3%.
- Citigroup is up 1.93%.
- Bank of America is enjoying a gain of 1.86%.
- Wells Fargo is a little behind, with a gain of 0.71%.
The recent rally for JPMorgan adds to the impressive gains the bank has made in the past few months. With a 13.7% rise in the past 30 days and a 31.1% gain over the past six months, the bank is on a roll -- leading many to reaffirm their confidence in management, Jamie Dimon's leadership in particular.
Meeting of the minds
Yesterday's shareholder meeting was highly anticipated and closely watched, as Wall Street waited to see if investors would vote to split up Jamie Dimon's dual CEO/Chairman roles within the bank. As many expected, the proposal to split the roles was defeated for the third year in a row. With shareholders in favor of the split only accounting for 32% of the total vote, Dimon's victory was by a larger margin than the prior year's -- which was a 60-40 split.
Either the analysts that predicted a Dimon defeat were way off base, or the threat of his leaving the bank entirely was sufficient enough to swing votes in his favor -- whatever the case, Jamie Dimon is here to stay. Whether or not you like his leadership at JPMorgan, there are plenty of examples of stellar operations and record earnings under his guidance.
For all those shareholders that voted to keep Dimon in the big seat(s), management took note and announced a newly increased dividend. Upping the ante by 26%, the new dividend will pay out $0.38 per share in July. With the bank's record earnings in the first quarter, there's no real surprise that it would raise the dividend. But some continued pressure from low interest rates, slowing in the mortgage market, and some pressures in emerging markets may have caused some to believe that the increase would not be as substantial.
All in a day's work
Dimon gets to keep both of his banker hats, and shareholders get a little capital disbursement for their trouble. While that may not sit well with the 32% of investors that wanted the split, long-term shareholders should be happy with the outcome. The bank doesn't have to go through a big shuffle on the board or more headlines about Dimon's future -- it can get back to business. And while today's gains are great, they may not last as we move through the week or month. Keep an eye on the long-term prospects of the bank, and you'll be golden.
With big finance firms still trading at deep discounts to their historic norms, investors everywhere are wondering if this is the new normal, or if finance stocks are a screaming buy today. The answer depends on the company, so to help figure out whether JPMorgan is a buy today, check out The Motley Fool's premium research report on the company. Click here now for instant access!