While bank earnings are usually a good barometer for the nation's economy, many of the factors weighing down financials, such as tougher regulations and the Eurozone debt crisis, aren't necessarily a reflection on U.S. economic activity.
In fact, according to the U.S. Federal Reserve's Beige Book report, released Wednesday, the overall economy at the end of last year continued to improve slowly but steadily.
Friday the 13th for the FinancialsAnalysts have been consistently lowering earnings expectations for all the big banks in recent weeks.
"Friday the 13th will live up to its name when it comes to bank earnings," Mike Mayo, an analyst with independent research firm CLSA in New York, told Bloomberg News. "You're going to see all sorts of revenue and margin pressure and the results will be underwhelming."
The consensus estimate for JPMorgan, the nation's biggest bank by assets and a bellwether for the industry, has slid from $0.97 per share to $0.94 per share in the past month; three months ago the estimate was $1.11 per share.
That puts JPMorgan's earnings below the $1.02 per share of the previous quarter and well below the $1.13 of the year-ago quarter. JPMorgan's revenue is expected to drop 20.8% from first-quarter 2011.
And as disappointing as that sounds, JP Morgan will be one of the strongest performers this bleak bank earnings season, which follows a year in which some bank stocks fell more than 40%.
As the other major U.S. banks report earnings next week - Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) and Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) on Tuesday, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) on Wednesday and Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) on Thursday -- the din of negativity will be hard to ignore.
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