JPMorgan loan business notches record in back-to-basics quarter

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The biggest U.S. bank leaned on old-fashioned lending in the third quarter to weather a slump in fixed-income trading.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. said net interest income — revenue from customers’ loan payments minus what it pays depositors — jumped to a record $13.9 billion in the period, helped by rising interest rates and steady growth in what the bank considers core loans. Bond-trading revenue fell 10%.

JPMorgan’s core-loan book expanded 6%, excluding the investment bank, even as it faced stiffer competition from nontraditional lenders and as rising interest rates sapped demand for some types of borrowing, including mortgages. Some companies borrowed to fund growth plans in the wake of President Donald Trump’s tax cuts. Before the report, analysts had predicted loans would only increase 2% for the four biggest U.S. money-center banks.

The increase in NII put the lender on pace to meet more optimistic guidance set by Chief Financial Officer Marianne Lake at an investor conference in September, when she said the bank could generate $55.5 billion of net interest income in 2018. That was a boost from the $55 billion she forecast in February.

Analysts have warned that bank profits could be nearing their peaks as the benefits of lower taxes, declining legal bills and rising interest rates start to fade. Charles Peabody at Portales Partners cut his recommendation on JPMorgan to sell from neutral Wednesday, citing the possibility of falling revenue, higher credit costs and weaker shareholder returns in 2019.

“The U.S. and the global economy continue to show strength, despite increasing economic and geopolitical uncertainties, which at some point in the future may have negative effects on the economy,” Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said in a statement announcing the results on Friday.

The bank’s net interest income beat a previous record of $13.8 billion set in the fourth quarter of 2008. On an adjusted basis, it was $14.1 billion, surpassing the $14.03 billion average estimate of six analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The amount the bank set aside for bad loans was $948 million, less than the $1.46 billion analysts expected.

Trading revenue of $4.4 billion was helped by a 17% jump in equity trading. Fixed-income trading revenue of $2.84 billion fell short of analysts’ estimates.

Lake said in September that third-quarter trading revenue would decline from the same period a year earlier. JPMorgan said Friday the drop in fixed-income trading revenue reflected weakness in its rates and credit-trading businesses.

Shares of the bank were trading at $109.15 before the start of regular U.S. trading, after closing at $108.13 on Thursday.

Net income jumped 24% to $8.38 billion, or $2.34 a share, from $6.73 billion, or $1.76, a year earlier. That beat the $2.26 average estimate of 23 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Noninterest expense climbed 7% to $15.6 billion. Analysts expected $15.7 billion. Net interest margin, the difference between what a bank charges borrowers and pays depositors, increased 5 basis points from the previous three-month period to 2.51%.

Bloomberg News