he results are in: America's five largest banks have logged their first quarter earnings reports, and growth is the theme. All but one (sorry, Bank of America) beat analysts' expectations for profits, though JP Morgan and Wells Fargo missed slightly on the revenue side. A quick breakdown of how our financial giants are faring so far in 2013:
Wells Fargo: Our nation's biggest home lender saw a 22 percent increase in profit from a year earlier, reporting earnings of $5.2 billion, or 92 cents a share — their 13th consecutive rise in quarterly earnings. That beat expectations of analysts who predicted earnings of 88 cents a share.
Downside: Revenue slipped slightly to $21.3 billion from $21.6 billion a year earlier, and Wells Fargo's mortgage business — the bank's bread and butter — slipped 3 percent. The company also saw a 16 percent drop in mortgage originations, not the best sign for a bank that writes about a third of all the country's mortgages.
Citigroup: With a strong focus on international markets, Citigroup profits rose 30 percent in the first quarter. The bank earned $3.8 billion, or $1.23 a share, compared to $2.9 billion, or 95 cents a share during the first quarter last year. Revenue jumped 3 percent to $20.5 billion.
Downside: Even with near-record low interest rates, U.S. consumers are still feeling the pain from the 2008 crash and are reluctant to take out new loans. So revenue growth in the consumer banking unit remained stagnant, says The New York Times.
Goldman Sachs: Defying critics and exceeding analysts' expectations, Goldman reported $2.2 billion in profits in the first quarter, up 7.2 percent from a year earlier. The bank saw $10.1 billion in revenue, $694 million of which came from debt underwriting, a record for the bank.
Downside: The bank saw a 7 percent fall in bond trading — their biggest cash cow. And roughly $2 billion of that $10.1 billion in revenue came from investments that tend to fluctuate in value, which makes investors nervous, Glenn Schorr, an analyst at Nomura, tells the Times.
JPMorgan Chase: The largest of the top five banks saw a 33 percent rise in first-quarter earnings, marking the 12th consecutive quarter of profits and exceeding expectations. Net profit: $6.5 billion, or $1.59 a share.
Downside: Revenue slid slightly to $25.8 billion from $26.8 billion a year earlier, and more than $1 billion of the bank's $6.5 billion net income came from reducing reserve funds, which some say makes the numbers look deceptively high.
Bank of America: The only of the big five to miss analysts' expectations, BofA earned a net income of $2.6 billion, or 20 cents a share, from $23.7 billion of revenue. Expectations aside, profits quadrupled from a year earlier and the bank managed to cut $1 billion in expenses.
Downside: Investors are unimpressed — shares sunk 3 percent in pre-market trading Wednesday morning. Consumer banking — the bank's bread and butter — saw a dip in revenue and profit, as did mortgage banking.
So there you have it: In three months our nation's largest five banks earned a total of $20.3 billion. For the record, that's $225.56 million a day, $156,000 a minute or $2,610 a second. Tick. Tock.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why would a young person today be religious?
- Why we can't stop procrastinating, according to science
- Israel and Russia are getting along. Have the neocons noticed?
- The world's dumbest idea: Taxing solar energy
- The 6-year-old who woke up from a coma with a different personality
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- How Captain America won over China
- Why I'm a pro-life liberal
- Why Holy Thursday is so important to Christians
Subscribe to the Week