Thursday, April 18, 2024

Bank profits mostly fall in fourth quarter, but banks remain upbeat on economy and consumer

by Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Three of the nation’s biggest banks said Friday that their profits fell last quarter, as JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup deal with the lingering effects of higher interest rates and the industry costs of last year’s banking crisis that caused the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank.

All the banks had one-time charges in their quarterly results, many of them specifically related to their own businesses, making this quarter particularly messy. But setting aside the turbulence of the banking panic and the charges, the banks had a mostly strong 2023 driven by a resilient job market, a U.S. consumer who continues to spend and not fall behind on their debts despite the impact of inflation, and higher interest rates that have boosted revenue across the industry.

JPMorgan Chase said Friday that its profits dropped 15% in the fourth quarter, despite the bank reporting record quarterly revenue.

JPMorgan’s profits fell because it was required to pay $2.9 billion to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. as part of an industry-wide, one-time special assessment by the regulator to cover the $16.7 billion in costs to cover the uninsured depositors caught up in the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. Other banks like Citi and BofA are paying this assessment as well.

With that aside, JPMorgan brought in an eyeball-popping $50 billion in profits last year, up from $37.6 billion in profits in 2022. Revenue at the largest bank in the country was nearly $160 billion.

“The U.S. economy continues to be resilient, with consumers still spending, and markets currently expect a soft landing,” said Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan’s CEO and chairman, in a statement. A soft landing refers to the Fed’s plan to slow the U.S. economy from inflation without putting the economy into recession.

Struggling from the geopolitical turmoil, Citigroup posted a fourth-quarter loss due to the FDIC’s assessment and other restructuring charges. The bank also announced it was going to cut 20,000 jobs, roughly 10% of its workforce, as part of Citi’s restructuring.

The most international of banks, Citi has announced plans to wind down, restructure or sell off several of its businesses in the last couple of years. The bank is selling Banamex, its Mexico affiliate, and and is effectively liquidating its Russian operations since the war in Ukraine broke out two years ago.

Citi posted a loss of $1.8 billion in the fourth quarter compared to a $2.5 billion profit a year earlier.

Along with the FDIC assessment and some other one-time charges, the profits at Bank of America fell 50% from a year earlier. BofA has had a relatively difficult year because the bank’s balance sheet is tilted toward shorter-term securities, which means it bought a lot of securities during the pandemic when interest rates were low. Those bonds and other securities now have losses tied to them that has required BofA to write them down last year as interest rates rose quickly.

One bright spot was Wells Fargo. The San Francisco-based Wells earned $3.45 billion, or 86 cents per share, on $20.5 billion in revenue. Profits met Wall Street analysts’ targets while sales came in just ahead of forecasts. Analysts were looking for profit of 86 cents per share on $20.3 billion in revenue.

For the full year, Wells’ revenue increased by 11% over 2022, jumping to $82.6 billion. It was boosted by a 16% increase in net interest income. Earnings per share for 2023 came in at $4.83, up by almost 48% over the previous year’s $3.27.

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