Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC ) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) kicked off on Friday what promises to be a very challenging earnings season. Instead of sending a unified message, the banking bellwethers showed their divergent ways. Wells Fargo posted better-than-expected results, but JPMorgan fell short.
The market was braced for a ho-hum quarter out of JPMorgan, but after seeing profitability shrink at its consumer banking, mortgage originations, and corporate and investment banking divisions, there was no way it would be able to live up to Wall Street forecasts.
Wells Fargo held up relatively better, overcoming weakness in its mortgage banking business to deliver better-than-expected results.
Where do we go from here? Wells Fargo and JPMorgan are essentially kicking off the new earnings season. The next few weeks will feature companies stepping up to disclose their financial performances during the first three months of the year, and it could get pretty hairy. Lousy weather earlier in the period slowed retailers, and margins are getting squeezed across several industries. The market itself has already been correcting in some sectors, including tech and biotechnology. Investors can't afford to sleep through the next few weeks of reports.
Briefly in the news
And now let's look at some of the other stories that shaped our week.
- Carl Icahn is finally letting eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY ) be. The billionaire activist investor dropped his proposal to spin off PayPal and add two members of his choosing to eBay's board. The online marketplace giant did agree to bring on a former telco executive as a board member to satisfy Icahn, but that's a small concession to silence him.
- China's Alibaba is buying all of AutoNavi (NASDAQ: AMAP ) in a transaction that values the developer of mobile maps at a cool $1.5 billion. Alibaba already owned a minority stake in AutoNavi as the e-commerce leader gears up for its upcoming IPO.
- Yelp (NYSE: YELP ) has been one of the hardest hit stocks in recent weeks, but it got back-to-back-to-back boosts of confidence with analyst upgrades on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. It's not a total victory for the leading reviews website, though. The bullish price targets are below where the shares were when it peaked last month. However, after shedding more than a third of its value, Yelp investors will take it.
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