JPMorgan Chase profit leaps to $3.6 bln

NEW YORK: JPMorgan Chase said Wednesday its third quarter profit jumped to 3.6 billion dollars in a further sign of the rebounding fortunes of the banking sector.

The profit however was heavily skewed to investment banking and trading results, which offset weakness in the consumer sector, especially in credit cards.

The group, among the healthiest of the major US banks, said earnings were multiplied nearly by seven from 527 million dollars in the same period a year ago.

The results translated to 82 cents per share, much better than expected by analysts, who had called for a profit of 52 million dollars.

Revenues surged 79 percent from a year ago to 28.8 billion dollars, due in part of the acquisition of failed lending giant Washington Mutual.

Jamie Dimon, chairman and chief executive, said the results were positive but offered a cautious outlook.

"While we are seeing some initial signs of consumer credit stability, we are not yet certain that this trend will continue," he said.

"Despite this near-term uncertainty about the path of the economy, our strong capital position and underlying earnings power will enable us to continue to invest in our businesses, creating a lasting franchise for many years to come."

More than half the profit, of 1.9 billion dollars, came from investment banking. The company lost 700 million dollars on credit card operations and 1.0 billion dollars in consumer loans.

It also set aside 3.8 billion dollars for credit losses, compared with 2.0 billion in the prior year, "reflecting continued weakness in the home equity and mortgage loan portfolios."

Commercial banking profits rose nine percent from a year ago to 341 million dollars, and asset management earnings increased 23 percent to 430 million.

Another big contributor to the bottom line was the corporate and private equity segment, including investment trading income. That amounted to a profit of 1.28 billion dollars, compared with a loss of 1.78 billion a year earlier.

The overall results drew positive analyst comments.

Jon Ogg at 24/7 Wall Street said it represented "very impressive earnings" from "the cleanest bank in America."

"The results are strong enough that it has set a very high bar for its peers," he said.

JPMorgan acquired Wall Street giant Bear Stearns last year in a government-brokered deal to avert a collapse of the Wall Street firm.

It then scooped up Washington Mutual after the deepening of the financial crisis forced the giant thrift into bankruptcy, in a vast expansion for JPMorgan.