J.P. Morgan & Co. was one of very few banks to gain in stock market trading Wednesday, thanks to a meeting at which the bank provided to analysts an overview of its European operation and fixed income business.
The venerable white shoe bank, which prior to this year had been unusually reticent to discuss its business with outsiders, made the presentations late Tuesday. By the end of the day Wednesday, shares were up $2.25 to $93.625, in marked contrast to the rest of the banking sector, which was hit by a round of profit taking.
The presentations by Peter Hancock, head of the fixed income and derivatives businesses, and Walter Gubert, the managing director of the client business in Europe, were "relatively upbeat," said Steve Berman, analyst at Stein Roe & Farnham.
Mr. Berman said J.P. Morgan "seems particularly well positioned to achieve revenues" in the changing political and economic climate of Europe.
Mr. Berman and other analysts remained cautious about the company after the session, however, saying Morgan still had not provided enough quantitative analysis to justify upgrades of the stock.
For one thing, they complained that the bank's projected return on equity - 15% to 20% and up - was too imprecise to engender much confidence, especially after a quarter in which the bank returned only about 10%.
But they also said they welcomed the new openness.
The presentations were part of a series that began last spring with a strategy discussion featuring chairman Douglas A. Warner 3d.
J.P. Morgan's stock has lagged behind other bank issues this year, but a bank spokeswoman said it was the need to explain the bank's unique approach to the business - and not the need to boost the stock - that prompted the meetings.
Whatever the bank says officially, it needs to take steps to strengthen its stock's perfomance, said analyst George Salem of Gerard Klauer Mattison & Co. He noted that options on a company's stock can be used to attract and retain talent, so strong performance is important in helping build market share.
"You can't be a nondiscloser in a world where everybody else is wide open," Mr. Salem added. He said communication is especially important to a company like J.P. Morgan whose businesses - notably its derivatives operation - can be difficult to understand.
Mr. Salem currently rates J.P. Morgan "hold."
"I think the stock is going to require patience from investors to reap the capital gains potential that exists here," said Mr. Salem.
But he called the bank "a machine of market share improvement," and added, "I think you could say you ain't seen nothing yet."