After witnessing Citigroup's (NYSE: C) earnings report on Tuesday, investors in Income Investor pick JPMorgan Chase  (NYSE: JPM) had to be relieved that results at the bank weren't all that bad. And in this market, not all that bad is pretty darn good.

For the fourth quarter, the company's bottom line was solidly in the black, to the tune of $3 billion. This compares very favorably with the deep red that Citi reported and the mess that is expected to come from Merrill Lynch (NYSE: MER) when it reports tomorrow. Though fourth-quarter earnings per share of $0.86 fell below analysts' expectations, the market was bidding up JPMorgan shares more than 7% as I was writing this.

Based on this report, it appears that JPMorgan may have two-stepped out of the way of the worst of the subprime and mortgage market trouble. For the quarter, the bottom line of its investment banking unit fell precipitously, as $1.3 billion in subprime losses ate away at strong results from equity underwriting and advising on mergers and acquisitions. That $1.3 billion, though, is a far cry from the $18 billion bullet that Citigroup bit and the $15 billion or so that Merrill is expected to be eating.

While avoiding "disastrous results" is a good outcome in its own right, it also puts JPMorgan in a good position in the current market. With a wide variety of assets and companies bid down on fear and concern, there are a lot of potential acquisition targets out there for the company. Earlier in the week, reports circulated that the company held preliminary talks with Washington Mutual (NYSE: WM). Without going into specifics, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon noted on the conference call that the company is on the lookout for acquisitions.

Not to be overlooked in all of the back-patting over JPMorgan's quarter is that its results added another data point to the faltering U.S. consumer. Results at its card services division, which manages more than $150 billion of loans, declined on both the year-over-year and quarter-by-quarter bases as its charge-off rate and 30-day delinquency rates both ticked up significantly.

So I think we can safely give Dimon and his crew at JPMorgan another tip of the hat for another respectable quarter. However, the prospects for the next quarter remain foggy because credit quality will continue to be a concern.

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Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Fool's disclosure policy has never once been caught with its pants down. Of course, it doesn't actually wear pants ...