Breaking News This Morning ...
Citi Earnings: Citigroup reported a 4% rise in quarterly profits year-over-year, besting analyst estimates. Similarly to Wells Fargo, however (see below), revenue at Citi fell slightly year-over-year. Wall Street Journal, New York Times
Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Wells, JPM Earnings, Take Two: A few news outlets are out with second takes on Friday morning's bank earnings. (Quick recap: Wells was up; JPMorgan Chase was down.) "Wells Fargo's ascension punctuates the industry upheaval that resulted from the financial crisis," the Journal notes. "Before 2008, Wells Fargo was a regional institution on the West Coast known for purposely avoiding attention and for a cross-selling strategy of offering customers additional products and services." (American Banker's Kevin Wack has more on how Wells whose revenue actually declined 3% year over year plans to keep its earning machine humming.) Meanwhile, BreakingViews columnist Jeffrey Goldfarb predicts JPM still isn't out of murky waters. JPM CEO Jamie "Dimon reckons the worst of JPMorgan's legal troubles are behind it," he writes. "He also is getting a chance to reshape his inner circle after the departure of two more deputies, Mike Cavanagh and Blythe Masters. And yet he hardly sounds enthusiastic about the new beginning." And the FT's Lex column agrees JPM's troubles may not be over. "Whether JPMorgan is being justifiably prudent or just losing share cannot be known until the cycle plays out," it notes. "What is clear is that the bank does not have balance sheet growth to offset capital markets weakness or vice versa." No wonder Dimon isn't having any fun.
Some More Citi News: Anony-mice tell the paper Citi declined to work on an Italian-backed bid for a Spanish olive-oil bottler over concerns that the deal would "infuriate" the Spanish government. "The bid ultimately faltered, and the discussions regarding Citigroup's role reveal the depth of the politics at work," the paper notes. Meanwhile, the FT reports Citi is making further cuts (about 200 to 300 people) at its investment bank. "Cutting expenses is a major part of Citi chief executive Mike Corbat's strategy, including a commitment to cut 11,000 jobs, made in December 2012," the article reminds readers.
Market Watch: The stock market might not be doing so hot right now, but a few news outlet suggest there are reasons to remain, albeit somewhat, optimistic. "While some investors are alarmed by what they see as bubbles in some parts of the current stock market, the overall market isn't dangerously high, they say," the Journal reports. And a Dealbook article suggests that sell-offs of stocks with nosebleed valuations, like Netflix or King Digital Entertainment, the maker of Candy Crush, will give other stocks a chance to shine. "It's providing a rare moment in the sun for so-called value investors, who focus on out-of-favor stocks with relatively low valuations, often measured by price-to-earnings ratios," the article notes. And here's some good news for Europe, courtesy of the FT: "U.S. money market funds are surging back into Europe as exposure to the region's banks hits a two-year high, providing a crucial vote of confidence in the continent's fragile economic recovery."
More Say on Executive Pay: "Several big investors" tell the FT they are planning "a significant protest vote" against U.K. banks, including Barclays, for boosting executives' fixed salaries ahead of the European Union's forthcoming bonus cap, during shareholder meetings due to start this month. (Scan readers may recall Barclays, particularly, came under fire last month after disclosing its bankers' pay increased last year while profits fell.) And the Times' Gretchen Morgenson tackles executive pay in her latest column. Morgenson focuses on a new study that found the most popular metrics used in pay for performance structures "are downright ineffective at motivating executives to create shareholder value."
Wall Street Journal
Spanish banks are selling their own foreclosures to customers coming in looking for a mortgage. "Spokesmen for BBVA, Caixabank, Banco Popular Español SA and Banco Sabadell SA confirmed that they offer more generous financing and a lower interest rate for foreclosure purchases and say the practice has helped them shed repossessed homes," the paper notes.
UBS is "set to become one of the highest dividend payers in a sector still grappling with the aftermath of the financial crisis."
New York Times
First comes book. Then comes backlash. Dealbook reports that Michael Lewis' latest book "Flash Boys" isn't just receiving criticism from the high-speed traders it criticizes. A number of financial journalists, it says, are also panning the book. Of course, it's worth noting a majority of the pejorative op-eds mentioned in the Dealbook article were penned by Times columnists themselves.