By almost any reasonable standard, Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) is an enormous company. Its interests stretch into investment banking, retail and commercial banking, card services, investment management, and retail brokerage. Yet it's barely half the size of Citigroup (NYSE:C), a conglomerate built to do most of the same things. Though its performance has been a bit volatile lately, could JPMorgan still treat its shareholders to further growth?

If you want to delve deeply into this bank's third-quarter results, I'd recommend packing a lunch. It's not that the company makes things difficult; in fact, I'd say it does a commendable job of communicating salient facts pretty clearly. It's just that there's a lot going on below the top line.

Revenue climbed 16% in the quarter, with 65% growth in investment banking providing a huge boost. Retail banking was down a bit, card services were up a bit, and commercial banking and treasury/securities services both posted solid growth quarters in terms of revenue. On the profits side of the ledger, investment banking was again the sugar daddy and provided nearly 40% of the company's operating earnings, versus 29% last year. Retail banking was hit hard by provisioning necessitated by Hurricane Katrina, but this metric would have fallen 1% anyway. The other three businesses all had quite strong earnings growth, despite the dampening impact of Katrina-related provisioning.

For the company as a whole, performance in the third quarter added up to a return on equity of 9% (versus 5% a year ago) and return on assets of 0.84% (versus 0.5%). Both of those numbers are quite weak on a comparable basis, though it should be remembered that last year's acquisition of Bank One more than doubled the common equity base of the company.

While JPMorgan's forward valuation looks low relative to its past, it's pretty much trading in line with the likes of Citigroup, Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MWD). I wouldn't rule out the possibility of some additional major moves (perhaps a reunion with Morgan Stanley?), but investors should not rely on that happening. I do think that JPMorgan's valuation, breadth of businesses, and dividend make it somewhat attractive. But the company is still likely to appeal only to patient investors who can wait for their gains.

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).