JPMorgan Chase (JPM -0.23%) just reported its second-quarter earnings, and the numbers fell a bit short of what investors were looking for. But that isn't necessarily the reason the stock is down, and it certainly isn't the cause of Thursday's sharp drop in the overall stock market all by itself.
Rather, investors seem to be on edge because CEO Jamie Dimon -- who is perhaps the most widely followed chief executive next to Warren Buffett when it comes to the economy -- had some gloomy comments about the near-term outlook for the global economy. Here's a rundown of JPMorgan Chase's most recent results, what Dimon said, and what it could mean for stock investors.
JPMorgan Chase's earnings were a bit of a disappointment
JPMorgan Chase missed expectations on both the top and bottom lines. Earnings were 28% lower than they were a year ago on a per-share basis, but this was mostly fueled by a large build in the company's loan-loss reserves.
Beyond the headline numbers, much of the bank's business looks solid. Loans and deposits are higher by 7% and 9%, respectively, compared with a year ago. The bank achieved the top market share for global investment banking fees. It generated a 13% return on equity, and book value grew 2% year over year despite the economic headwinds. Client assets under management fell 8% to $2.7 trillion, but that's really not bad considering how poorly the market has performed recently.
Dimon is bracing for an economic storm
But along with the earnings release, Dimon offered some commentary on the results and economy in general.
First, the good news is that Dimon doesn't seem terribly concerned with JPMorgan Chase's business thanks to its "credit discipline and fortress balance sheet." With the job market strong and consumer spending at high levels, there are certainly some positive economic factors.
However, Dimon points out that there are some big near-term headwinds, saying that "geopolitical tension, high inflation, waning consumer confidence, the uncertainty about how high rates have to go and the never-before-seen quantitative tightening and their effects on global liquidity, combined with the war in Ukraine and its harmful effect on global energy and food prices are very likely to have negative consequences on the global economy sometime down the road."
These comments come just a few weeks after Dimon cautioned investors to brace for an economic "hurricane." At a recent financial conference, he said, "Right now, it's kind of sunny, things are doing fine, everyone thinks the Fed can handle this. That hurricane is right out there, down the road, coming our way."
He also took action on his economic fears by suspending share buybacks, which have historically been a major way the bank has returned capital to investors. The goal is to give the bank as much financial flexibility as possible, even if a recession hits.
Should investors be worried?
First of all, it's important to keep things in perspective. While Dimon is a highly respected banking leader (and for good reason), this is just the first of several big bank earnings reports. It remains to be seen if other top banking leaders have the same outlook, or if they'll choose to build reserves or cut buybacks as aggressively. After all, Morgan Stanley also reported earnings on Thursday and didn't have nearly as pessimistic a tone. Plus, keep in mind that JPMorgan Chase was the only major big bank that was forced to keep its dividend unchanged after the recent stress tests.
Having said that, Dimon certainly makes some good points, and there are quite a few headwinds that could lead to a recession in the near future. The good news is that stocks have already taken a beating and much of the bad news is likely priced in at this point, but investors could be in for a roller-coaster ride until we have more clarity on the future direction of the economy.
The bottom line is that long-term investors shouldn't be terribly worried and could find some attractive entry points into rock-solid stocks in the current market climate. With the stock priced at roughly 1.6 times tangible book value, JPMorgan Chase itself is trading for a valuation we haven't seen since the early 2020 pandemic-fueled market crash, and plenty of other stocks are in the same boat.