Why Bankers Don't Like Reggie: How Many "One Time" Items Do We Need To Make An Item No Longer "One Time"?

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Before I get started, I just want everyone to know that I always declared that There's Something Fishy at the House of Morgan (Wednesday, 27 April 2011). Here are a few historical graphics to bring you up to speed to what should now be painfully obvious, re: JPM!




I have warned of this event. JP Morgan (as well as Bank of America) is literally a litigation sinkhole. See JP Morgan Purposely Downplayed Litigation Risk That Spiked 5,000% Last Year & Is Still Severely Under Reserved By Over $4 Billion!!! Shareholder Lawyers Should Be Scrambling Now Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011.


Traditional banking revenues: manifest destiny as forwarned - Weakening Revenue Streams in US Banks Will Make Them More Susceptible To Contingent Risks



Okay, now back to today's news...


JP Morgan reported this morning and we got more of the same, simply that much harder to ignore. On Thursday, 06 January 2011 I posted "As JP Morgan & Other Banks Legal Costs Spike, Many Should Ask If It Was Not Obvious Years Ago That This Industry May Become The "New" Tobacco Companies". Today Bloomberg reported JPMorgan’s Dimon Posts First Loss on $7.2 Billion Legal Cost to mounting litigation and regulatory probes. No surprises here. We saw it coming two years ago and warned accordingly. As excerpted:


The third-quarter loss was $380 million, or 17 cents a share, compared with a profit of $5.71 billion, or $1.40, a year earlier, the New York-based company said today in a statement. Shares of the company rose 2.6 percent at 7:50 a.m. after profit adjusted for one-time items beat analysts’ estimates. 


...The pretax legal charge was $9.2 billion, compared with $684 million a year earlier. Litigation reserves at the end of September were $23 billion, the bank said, adding that “reasonably possible” losses in excess of those reserves were $5.7 billion.


And the (now perennial) kicker...


JPMorgan rose to $53.90 in New York trading from $52.52 at the close yesterday. Earnings adjusted for one-time items were $1.42 a share, exceeding the $1.30 average estimate of 20 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.


Pray thee tell me, how many times do "one time" items have to occur before they're no longer considered "one time" items???!!! JP Morgan "found" earnings in the form of reserve releases (again), from the press release:


$1.60 billion pretax benefit; $992 million after-tax ($0.26 per share after-tax increase in earnings) from reduced reserves in Consumer & Community Banking


Now, we've seen this movie before haven't we? The following is an excerpte from a post I made TWO YEARS AGO!:



 As Earnings Season is Here, I Reiterate My Warning That Big Banks Will Pay for Optimism Driven Reduction of Reserves. Time will tell if I am correct, but the trends are still moving in my favor. From Bloomberg:


JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the biggest U.S. banks face billions of dollars in legal costs related to their role in the financial crisis, threatening their profits and the stock price gains they made in 2010, analysts said.


JPMorgan, the second biggest bank by assets, reported $5.2 billion of legal costs in the first nine months of 2009, compared with a gain of $10 million in the same period a year earlier. The costs would rise if the bank reserves for multibillion-dollar lawsuits byLehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and the trustee liquidating Bernard L. Madoff’s firm.


... JPMorgan’s third-quarter net profit of $4.4 billion, up 23 percent from the year earlier, would have been larger if it hadn’t set aside $1.3 billion of pretax income for lawsuits and $1 billion for mortgage repurchases. Banks haven’t yet reported their results for the fourth quarter.


Of course, there are a few tidbits missing from this statement that can add to its accuracy. Let's see... Where did those profits come from? Again, you will find divergence between how BoomBustBlog reports and that of mainstream financial reporting. See JP Morgan’s 3rd Quarter Earnigns Analysis and a Chronological Reminder of Just How Wrong Brand Name Banks, Analysts, CEOs & Pundits Can Be When They Say XYZ Bank Can Never Go Out of Business!!! Sunday, October 17th, 2010



In a Nutshell, JPM’s quarterly results were downright horrible – as we expected and warned of in our previous quarterly analyses (see notes at bottom of page)…




JP Morgan’s Q3 net revenue declined 11% y/y (-5% q/q) to $24.8bn as investment banking revenue declined 18% y/y (-9% q/q) to $12.6bn from $13.9bn in the previous year and net interest income declined 2% y/y (-2% q/q, off of a combination of ZIRP victimization and a rapidly shrinking asset base and loan book) to $12.5bn versus $12.7bn in the previous year. Non-interest expense increased 7% y/y (-2% q/q) to $14.4bn as compensation expenses to net revenues remained broadly flat (28% vs 27.5%) while non-compensation expenses to net revenues jumped to 33% vs 23% in the corresponding period last year. As a result of “Fraudclosure” we expect this number to skyrocket next quarter. Overall, the efficiency ratio (total expenses-to-net revenues) increased to 60% vs 51% and we expect this ratio to spike next quarter as well as the banking business becomes even more expensive.


Click to enlarge…



However, despite a decline in net revenue and increase in non-interest expenses (both of which appear to be part of an obvious trend), profit before taxes was up 22% y/y as provisions for credit losses were slashed by 60%. JPM decreased its provision for credit losses despite no evidence of a substantial, sustainable improvement in credit metrics (please reference As Earnings Season is Here, I Reiterate My Warning That Big Banks Will Pay for Optimism Driven Reduction of Reserves). Provisions have lagged charge-offs for two consecutive quarters in a row.



As a result, banks allowances for loan losses have decreased to 4.9% in Q3 from 5.1% in Q2 and 4.7% in previous year.  Although under provisioning has helped the bank to mask its dearth in profits it has also materially undermined its ability to absorb losses if economic conditions worsen. The Eyles test, a measure of banks ability to absorb losses, has consequently worsened to 1.9% in Q3 from 3.7% in Q2 and 5.9% in Q3 09.




Wait a minute! If Reggie Middleton complained about reserve pulling and legal expenses 1,2 and 3 years ago and was proven right, how are the occurence of these items in 2013 to be considered "One Time" items????


Exactly!


ZeroHedge puts itsuccinctly: 


In short: of the firm's $1.42 in pro forma EPS, a whopping $1.59 was purely from the addback of these two items.


 

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