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JPM Stock: Don’t Panic Over JPMorgan’s Earnings Faceplant

When compared to Wells Fargo, which investors treated kindly Friday, JPM's numbers don't look THAT bad

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JPMorgan (JPM) delivered dismal first-quarter earnings this morning, saying that several parts of its business have been hit especially hard early in 2014.

NYSE:JPMIt’s possible these setbacks are specific to JPMorgan, but more likely they’re industry-wide. Either way, that definitely can’t be good for JPM stock, and if it’s the latter, financials in general should be on watch.

Should investors sell JPM stock amid this pretty ugly earnings report?

Well, the answer actually lies in Wells Fargo (WFC), whose first-quarter earnings report is a good measuring stick.

Q1 Earnings Recap

The first number in the JPMorgan earnings report that jumps out at me is the 19% decline in net income to $5.3 billion. A cool $1.3 billion was sliced off the bottom line in the first quarter thanks to poor performances by both its mortgage and fixed income businesses.

The second number — all the way up the income statement on the top line — saw net revenue decline by 8% year-over-year to $23.9 billion.

The third number? Return on assets of 0.89%.

In comparison, WFC saw its bottom line jump 14% in the first quarter to $5.9 billion, net revenue declined only 3.3% to $20.6 billion, and Wells Fargo’s RoA was 68 basis points better at 1.57%.

With all three numbers in Wells Fargo’s favor, it’s no wonder that JPM stock is taking a hit while WFC stock is doing fine.

Mortgage Meltdown

There’s no tactful way to describe the performance of the JPMorgan mortgage banking business — it plain stunk.

Mortgage production revenue declined 76% year-over-year on lower volumes with originations down 68% and 27%, respectively, when compared to Q1 2013 and Q4 2013. As a result of these lower revenues, JPMs consumer and community banking, which includes its mortgage business, saw net income decline 25% to $1.9 billion.

As a result of continuing weakness in mortgage activity, the consumer and community banking segment has laid off 14,000 people over the last year. That’s never a good sign.

OK, Wells Fargo’s mortgage banking business isn’t much better. Non-interest income from mortgage banking dropped 46% year-over-year to $1.5 billion. It had $36 billion in mortgage originations in the first quarter, 68% less year-over-year with applications off 57% to $60 billion. As a result of this weakness, WFC was forced to lay off 1,100 full-time employees this past quarter.

When it comes to mortgage banking, WFC stock is in exactly the same boat as JPM stock. Investors can’t be happy with this predicament.

Fixed Income Not Producing

Last year’s first quarter was much rosier for fixed-income products in terns of performance and in terms of client activity. The double whammy caused revenue in fixed-income markets to decline 21% year-over-year to $3.8 billion. Fixed-income revenues accounted for 15.9% of JPM’s overall first-quarter 2014 revenue compared to 18.2% in the year-ago-period.

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