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Do Not Vote Out Jamie Dimon: Analysts

Stocks in this article: JPM

Federal investigations, Senate hearings and a wave of recent regulatory actions have highlighted lapses in controls within the company. Dimon has, however, said he has worked to overhaul risk management practices and has replaced the management directly responsible for the losses.

The vote is non-binding, so there is a chance the board could ignore the vote and maintain status quo. The board's presiding director Lee Raymond and chairman of corporate governance William Weldon wrote a seven-page letter to shareholders stating their support of Dimon in his dual role.

Analysts at Credit Sights, however, believe the board would not ignore the vote "as it would garner more negative attention by the media, regulators and political forces."

But if the board does decide to split the roles, it remains to be seen who they would appoint as chairman and whether that person would work well with Dimon. Worse, what if Dimon quits, as reports suggest he might do?

Analysts believe Mike Cavanagh, co-head of the investment bank and former CFO, would be a likely successor. Matt Zames, COO and Gordon Smith, head of the consumer and community banking unit are other names that have been floated.

But the appointment of any of these names in the CEO position might be "3 - 4 years too soon" according to CLSA's Mayo. Most of the current management are old hands at JPMorgan, but have held their current roles for a relatively short time.

Some argue there is even a "Jamie Dimon premium" built into the stock. The bank's strong track record at execution has allowed it to continually delivery superior returns on shareholder equity.

Despite these concerns, some analysts believe the stock is a buy.

Evercore Partners analyst Andrew Marquardt believes there is no "Jamie premium," noting that the stock still trades at a cheap multiple for relatively superior returns. "While a split makes sense from a corp governance perspective broadly, we suspect there is a low probability of such happening given non-binding vote, Board support, and most importantly, looking at fundamentals where JPM clearly weathered last financial crisis better than most, results continue to outperform, and response to whale trade/CIO issues has been strong in terms of swift acknowledgement, accountability, and resolution," he wrote. "Regardless of outcome, we remain positive on JPM shares given fundamentals, deep management bench, and valuation."

Credit Sights analysts expect the spreads on JPMorgan bonds to weaken if Dimon exits following an unfavorable vote. Still, they said they view any weakening in spreads as a buying opportunity, as it believes that the bank's strong franchise in consumer and corporate banking is sustainable.

Goldman Sachs earlier this week said the stock's weakness in light of recent uncertainty presents a good buying opportunity. Historically, the analysts noted, JPMorgan shares have tended to outperform even before the uncertainty is resolved.

Shares of JPMorgan were trading up 1.8% at $51.11 Wednesday afternoon.

-- Written by Shanthi Bharatwaj New York.

>Contact by Email.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.
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