Another quarter, another bullet dodged. Story of the past year and a half for JPMorgan Chase
After bumping up quarterly earnings by six days, some investors feared the banking giant might have been trying to push unexpected bad news out of the way. And why shouldn't investors have been fearful? Little good has come out of the banking industry since the mother of all bank bailouts last September.
Thankfully, there weren't any big surprises: just quarterly net income of $702 million, or $0.07 per share, down from $0.86 per share earned in the same period last year. While the results were wholly unspectacular, anything but throwing up a white flag and coughing up a gazillion-dollar loss seems to be "good" news these days. After all, JPMorgan's closest rival, Bank of America
Despite its floundering peers, things still look A-OK on the balance sheet side. Tier-1 capital stood at 10.8%, and total retail deposits surged 63% to over $339.8 billion (attributable to the WaMu acquisition). Total assets stood at $2.2 trillion, whereas total common shareholders' equity came in at $135 billion -- call it 16-to-1 leverage.
Now, that balance sheet rundown might be acceptable, but what scares me about all of these banks -- JPMorgan included -- is both the sheer size of the organization and the still-shoddy investment banking division, which lost $2.4 billion in the quarter.
While no one thinks its in the same dire shape as Citigroup
Bigger doesn't always have to be better, and, in fact, rarely is. While JPMorgan might be the leader of the pack, the day-to-day paradigm changes sweeping the banking world casts a nasty cloud of uncertainty over its head. Of the big banks, JPMorgan might seem like the most investment-worthy, but let's put that in perspective: Big banks in general seem like investment suicide these days.
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Fool contributor Morgan Housel doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America are Motley Fool Income Investor recommendations. The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.