Tags: jpmorgan | wells | earnings

Banks Fib, But No One Seems to Care

By    |   Monday, 20 Apr 2009 09:07 AM

Investors have grown quite excited over recent news of bank earnings, saying the turn to profitability signals an end of the financial crisis and perhaps the bear stock market too.

But all that glitters isn’t necessarily golden. The numbers are being burnished, some say, by fancy accounting.

JPMorgan Chase trumpeted last week that its pre-tax, pre-provision earnings, which excludes current and future loan losses as well as paybacks to the government, totaled a sparkling $13.5 billion in the first quarter.

But those exclusions are far from trivial: Loan losses are what got banks into trouble in the first place. And given the billions of dollars they have borrowed from the government, the amount they will pay back isn’t trivial either.

Fortune magazine points out that JPMorgan didn’t previously publicize the adjusted earnings figure, which isn’t recognized under generally accepted accounting principles

Morgan isn’t alone in the practice. Wells Fargo, the first major bank to excite investors with news of strong earnings, said it anticipated a $3 billion profit for its first quarter.

But it hastened to add that its pre-tax, pre-provision earnings for the quarter registered $9.2 billion.

The bad news that is being left out, Fortune explains, is that credit costs are rising and expected to go higher.

In any case, top analysts have mixed views as to the outlook for banks.

Richard Bove says the worst is behind the banks and it’s time to buy. Both Mike Mayo and Meredith Whitney strongly disagree.

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Investors have grown quite excited over recent news of bank earnings, saying the turn to profitability signals an end of the financial crisis and perhaps the bear stock market too.But all that glitters isn’t necessarily golden. The numbers are being burnished, some say, by...
jpmorgan,wells,earnings
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2009-07-20
Monday, 20 Apr 2009 09:07 AM
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