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JPMorgan’s Quarterly Tax Pain Should Lead to 2018 Gains

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The U.S. tax overhaul cost JPMorgan Chase & Co. $2.4 billion last year. Consider it a down payment on a more profitable future.

The bank said that while it took accounting charges in the fourth quarter tied mostly to levies on foreign earnings required under the new law, its effective tax rate will drop this year to 19 percent from 32 percent. That means that if JPMorgan generates the same pretax profit this year as it did in 2017, earnings will balloon by more than $3.5 billion.

JPMorgan is the first big U.S. bank to detail the windfall the industry will receive under the new tax regime, which was signed into law last month. Discussion about the ramifications of the changes is likely to dominate earnings season over the firms’ quarterly results.

Chief Financial Officer Marianne Lake has said that some of those gains will probably evaporate as banks compete with one another on pricing and services.

“The enactment of tax reform in the fourth quarter is a significant positive outcome for the country,” Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said in a statement Friday. “U.S. companies will be more competitive globally, which will ultimately benefit all Americans.”

The bank is working on a long-term plan to use some of the windfall to benefit employees and customers, Dimon said on a call with analysts. Among potential changes could be improved pricing for low- and moderate-income borrowers in areas such as mortgages. The firm’s tax rate will likely rise above 20 percent within two years, Lake said.

JPMorgan’s fourth-quarter charge was largely driven by unremitted overseas earnings facing taxation under the Republican tax overhaul. 

Citigroup Inc. has said it will face a hit of as much as $20 billion, largely from a writedown of deferred tax assets, and other U.S. banks have  disclosed one-time charges in the billions.

The tax changes affected the firm’s trading results as revenue fell 26 percent to $3.37 billion from a year earlier.

Fixed-income revenue dropped 34 percent to $2.22 billion — more than $500 million lower than analysts’ estimates for that business — fueled by placid markets, tighter credit spreads and the tax charge.

Equity-trading revenue was little changed from a year earlier at $1.15 billion, affected by a $143 million loss on a margin loan. The loss was tied to South African retailer Steinhoff International Holdings NV, according to a person with knowledge of the transaction.

Excluding the one-time charges, the decline in overall trading revenue was 17 percent, slightly worse than Lake’s guidance from December. Lake said the trading environment at the beginning of 2018 is “consistent” with the end of last year.

JPMorgan’s shares rose 0.9 percent to $111.85 at 9:53 a.m. in New York. The stock climbed 29 percent in the past year through Thursday.

Here’s a summary of JPMorgan’s fourth-quarter results:

  • Net income dropped 37 percent to $4.23 billion, or $1.07 a share, from $6.73 billion, or $1.71, a year earlier.
  • Adjusted earnings per share were $1.76, the company said, beating the $1.69 average estimate of 16 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
  • Excluding the impact of the tax changes, net income would have been $6.7 billion.
  • Provisions for loan losses increased 51 percent from a year earlier to $1.31 billion, lower than the $1.48 billion analysts predicted.
  • Net revenue rose 5 percent to $25.5 billion, while noninterest expenses climbed by a similar percentage to $14.6 billion, driven largely by higher compensation costs and auto lease depreciations.
  • Profit in its commercial bank surged 39 percent to $957 million, helped by higher revenue from deposit spreads and loan growth, as well as a $115 million benefit tied to the tax changes.
  • Wealth-management profit climbed 12 percent to $654 million on rising markets and increasing interest income on deposits and loans.
  • Earnings from consumer banking increased 11 percent to $2.6 billion on higher deposit margins.
  • Net interest margin, the difference between what a bank pays depositors and charges borrowers, climbed 5 basis points to 2.42 percent from the previous quarter, exceeding analysts’ 2.39 percent estimate.
  • Interest income rose 11 percent from a year earlier to $13.35 billion, exceeding estimates.


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