On Friday, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) will release its quarterly report, and investors have remained confident about the Wall Street bank's ability to keep weathering the storm of financial regulation and other fallout from the financial crisis almost six years ago. But as fellow peers Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) and Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) have also discovered, JPMorgan faces huge obstacles in keeping earnings up, especially in light of a challenging interest rate environment that could get even worse in the future.

JPMorgan Chase has performed surprisingly well, given the amount of negative publicity the bank has gotten. To an even greater extent than Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase has found itself in the headlines because of multibillion-dollar settlements and allegations of misconduct. Yet JPMorgan's stock has survived all of those pressures, and the big profits the bank has generated have given shareholders plenty of reason to applaud their investment choice. Let's take an early look at what's been happening with JPMorgan Chase over the past quarter and what we're likely to see in its report.


Stats on JPMorgan Chase

Analyst EPS Estimate


Change From Year-Ago EPS


Revenue Estimate

$24.56 billion

Change From Year-Ago Revenue


Earnings Beats in Past 4 Quarters


Source: Yahoo! Finance.

What's next for JPMorgan Chase earnings?
In recent months, analysts have had somewhat downbeat views on JPMorgan Chase earnings, cutting first-quarter estimates by $0.08 per share and full-year 2014 projections by a dime per share. The stock has held its own, though, rising another 1% since early January.

JPMorgan's last earnings report in January started off the quarter on a mixed note. Net income for the bank dropped more than 7% from the year-ago quarter, with expenses from legal proceedings again weighing on JPMorgan Chase. The impact wasn't nearly as big as the $7.2 billion in after-tax settlement expenses that produced JPMorgan's first quarterly loss since CEO Jamie Dimon took over, but it still took better news from one of its banking peers later in the week to push JPMorgan Chase stock higher.

Still, JPMorgan Chase has done a good job of overcoming tough industry conditions in which volumes of merger activity and bond underwriting both hit multi-year lows. JPMorgan Chase's investment-banking division scored at the top of the industry, besting Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley in taking in nearly $3.9 billion in investment-banking fees. Moreover, JPMorgan Chase's capital plan got approved by the Federal Reserve after the bank passed the Fed's stress tests, and as a result, JPMorgan Chase shareholders should expect a dividend increase of more than 5% to $0.40 per share quarterly as well as share buybacks of $6.5 billion over the next year.

JPMorgan Chase has also worked hard to concentrate on the businesses with the highest potential. Last month, the company sold off its physical commodities business for $3.5 billion. The move allowed JPMorgan Chase to avoid tighter regulations that would have restricted its ability to control related businesses, and it should also help boost the bank's capital position.

But JPMorgan Chase does face some challenges. A proposed tax on big banks has the potential to cost JPMorgan dearly, and although such measures would ordinarily be seen as dead on arrival, the fact that it came from a Republican member of Congress shows the extent of popular opinion against JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and other big banks.

In addition, the bank has to figure out who will succeed Dimon as CEO whenever he might decide to give up his post. Last month, heir-apparent Michael Cavanagh decided to leave JPMorgan to go to a private-equity firm, leaving the bank without an obvious successor for Dimon. Although JPMorgan has a deep bench of talent, one concern is that if regulatory scrutiny becomes even more intense, would-be leaders will choose to go to other companies, where greater opportunities lie without the need to overcome strict regulation.

In the JPMorgan Chase earnings report, watch to see how the bank positions itself for the future, both in terms of potential new regulation, rising interest rates, and uncertainty in the financial markets. In order to keep growing, JPMorgan Chase needs to overcome all these obstacles and use its competitive advantage to keep producing profits, as it has done throughout its long and storied history.

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Dan Caplinger owns warrants on JPMorgan Chase. The Motley Fool recommends Goldman Sachs. The Motley Fool owns shares of JPMorgan Chase. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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