Dow component JPMorgan Chase and Co. (JPM) kicks off first quarter earnings season for the banking sector on Wednesday, followed by Citigroup Inc. (C) and Bank of America Corp. ((BA)C) on Thursday. The western hemisphere’s largest bank is expected to post a profit of $2.94 per-share on $29.96 billion in Q1 2021 revenue. If met, earnings-per-share (EPS) will mark a dramatic 377% profit increase compared to the same quarter in 2020.
Banks Lift into Market Leadership
Many U.S. banks have broken out above 2018 resistance in reaction to rising interest rates that should bolster industry profits for several years at a minimum. Historically speaking, rising rates are bullish for banks in the early phases of an economic boom but that tailwind dissipates as soon as rates get too high to support growth. That could happen before the next presidential election, given the current rate trajectory and trillions of printed dollars being handed out to U.S. citizens.
CEO Jamie Dimon sounded the alarm in a shareholder letter last week, warning “In an inflationary case, fiscal and monetary policy may very well be at odds. Also in this case, the cost of interest on U.S. debt could go up fairly dramatically making things a little worse. Rapidly raising rates to offset an overheating economy is a typical cause of a recession. One other negative: In this case, we would be going into a recession with an already very high U.S. deficit.”
Wall Street and Technical Outlook
Wall Street consensus has dropped to an ‘Overweight’ rating in response to Morgan’s 23% year-to-date return, based upon 16 ‘Buy’, 2 ‘Overweight’, 6 ‘Hold’, 1 ‘Underweight’, and 2 ‘Sell’ recommendations. price targets currently range from a low of $95 to a Street-high $187 while the stock ended Friday’s session about $9 below the median $165 target. There’s plenty of room for upside in this configuration, especially if Q1 earnings results exceed expectations.
The stock broke out above the 2000 high in the mid-60s in 2016 and entered a powerful uptrend that stalled above 140 at the end of 2019. It plummeted to a three-year low during the pandemic decline and turned higher in a two-legged recovery that finally reached the prior high in January 2021. Morgan then carved the handle in a cup and handle breakout pattern and took off in a rally that could easily top 200 by the fourth quarter.
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Disclosure: the author held no positions in aforementioned securities at the time of publication.