There are definitely fringe benefits that come with working with The Motley Fool. No, I'm not talking about free doughnuts or the guilty pleasures of taping "Short Berkshire Hathaway" signs to Bill Mann's back. What I mean here is that, in the process of following stocks every day for news and columns for Foolish readers, I inevitably find more ideas for my own portfolio -- like JPMorganChase
I never really thought I'd own JPMorgan stock, but here we are. Having followed big banks for the website, read through the company's recommendation in our own Motley Fool Income Investor newsletter, and chatted it up with other Fools, I ended up plunking down cash for a stock that I think could be a pretty good performer for me over the next few years.
But enough about me -- what about JPMorgan's fourth-quarter earnings? Most analysts are probably going to frame the results as something a bit shy of Goldilocks -- in other words, just not quite good enough. True, operating earnings were up about 13%, which slightly beat the estimate, but revenue growth was light at just 6%.
Investment banking and card services did them no favors. Poor trading and debt underwriting results hurt the former, while a spike in personal bankruptcies hurt the latter. Retail financial and commercial banking did all right, though, and smaller units like treasury services and asset management performed quite nicely.
I realize sluggish top-line growth isn't a good thing, but I'm not too worried. First, JPMorgan's return on equity and return on assets improved both annually and sequentially. Second, the company has a new CEO (Jamie Dimon) taking the reins, and I'm fairly confident in his ability to grow and improve the business. Finally, I just like the valuation, relative to both historical levels and competitors such as Citigroup
This probably won't be the most popular stock today, but I don't care. If it slips much, I'm buying more. After all, maybe JPMorgan won't be quite the winner I hope it to be, but I don't mind collecting a better-than-3% dividend while I wait to find out.
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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson owns shares of JPMorgan Chase but has no financial interest in any other stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares). The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.