NEW YORK — JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s fourth-quarter profit remained solidly tied to its business with Wall Street, while its business with Main Street continued to struggle with delinquent loans.
The $2 trillion-asset bank's fourth-quarter earnings quadrupled as the banking giant closed out a year in which it navigated the financial crisis better than its rivals. Though its $3.3 billion profit fell 9% from the third quarter, JPMorgan beat analyst expectations with a clean quarter almost free of one-time items.
But shares fell 1.9% premarket to $43.85. In his usual candor, Chairman and Chief Executive James Dimon said results for the quarter and year "fell short of both an adequate return on capital and the firm's earnings potential."
However, JPMorgan managed to hold on to its solid profit from securities underwriting, trading, and financial advice to big companies; investment banking earnings of $1.9 billion recovered from a $2.4 billion loss a year earlier and were flat with the gangbuster third quarter, despite a 34% decline in revenue.
Retail banking and credit card lending generated losses.
Dimon said, "While we are seeing some stability in delinquencies, consumer-credit costs remain high, and weak employment and home prices persist. Accordingly, we remain cautious." He added $2 billion to the reserve for future loan losses, virtually the same amount as in the third quarter.
The stock had gained 7.3% this month through Thursday, and had gained 84% the past year.
JPMorgan, the first of the major banks to report results, did not post a loss during the recession, even as other major banks were pushed far into the red. The bank has impressed Wall Street with its low level of delinquent business loans and supercharged profits from securities underwriting.
For the quarter ended Dec. 31, JPMorgan posted a profit of 74 cents a share, up from 6 cents a year earlier. The year-earlier quarter included $1.1 billion in gains related to its 2008 acquisition of Washington Mutual and another $853 million in hedging gains.
Revenue on a managed basis, which excludes the impact of credit-card securitizations and is on a tax-equivalent basis, jumped 32% to $25.23 billion.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had most recently forecast earnings of 61 cents a share on $26.81 billion in revenue.
The company's investment-banking division swung to a $1.9 billion profit from a year-earlier $2.36 billion loss.
Managed credit-loss provisions were $8.9 billion, up from $8.54 billion a year earlier and down from $9.8 billion the previous quarter.