JPMorgan Chase's parts are probably worth more to investors than the whole after regulators proposed tougher rules penalizing firms for size and complexity, according to Goldman Sachs.
JPMorgan could unlock value by splitting its four main businesses or dividing into consumer and institutional companies, Goldman Sachs analysts led by Richard Ramsden wrote today in a research note. Units of New York-based JPMorgan trade at a discount of 20 percent or more to stand-alone peers, they wrote.
"Our analysis suggests that a breakup into two or four parts could unlock value in most scenarios, although the range of outcomes we assessed is wide, at 5 percent to 25 percent potential upside," the analysts wrote.
The move would reverse much of Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon's work since taking over JPMorgan in 2006. Under Dimon, 58, the firm grew to become the largest U.S. lender by assets and the world's biggest investment bank after acquiring ailing firms during the 2008 financial crisis.
Andrew Gray, a JPMorgan spokesman, declined to comment on the research note.
Dimon has said the firm's size creates opportunities to cross-sell products and better serve clients.
"Each of our four major businesses operates at good economies of scale and gets significant additional advantages from the other businesses," Dimon wrote in a letter to shareholders last year. "This is one of the key reasons we have maintained good financial performance."
The logic of a breakup would rely on the consumer business, commercial bank, investment bank and asset management unit being valued closer to so-called pure-play financial companies, the Goldman Sachs analysts wrote. The parts probably could operate with lower capital levels as stand-alone firms, resulting in higher returns on equity, they wrote.
The maneuver would risk some of the $6 billion profit JPMorgan says it makes tied to synergies between businesses, though a split into halves would preserve much of those benefits, the analysts wrote.
The Federal Reserve laid out a plan last month that may require JPMorgan to add more than $20 billion to its capital by 2019. The rules could get even stricter, prompting banks to consider new business models, the Goldman Sachs analysts wrote.
"JPMorgan -- and other money centers -- would strongly consider strategic alternatives, providing shareholders with a breakup 'put option' if capital requirements get tougher," they wrote.
JPMorgan fell 2.3 percent to $61.03 at 11:13 a.m. in New York. The shares rose 7 percent last year, trailing the 13 percent advance for the 85-company Standard & Poor's 500 Financials Index.