NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- For investors following U.S. bank stocks, the most positive aspect of third-quarter earnings season has been strong growth in commercial and industrial loans for several key regional players.
It was a mediocre quarter overall, without much excitement when it came to upward revisions of sell-side earnings estimates. "Including the universal banks (BAC, C, JPM), consensus EPS estimates for '14 for large/midcaps decreased 0.5% on average through earnings season. Ex. the universals, estimates decreased 0.4%," according to Jefferies analyst Ken Usdin, who summed up third-quarter industry results in a client note late Friday.
JPMorgan Chase (JPM - Get Report) made the biggest splash this earnings season, with a $387 million net loss, as the company set aside $9.15 billion for litigation reserves during the third quarter. The bank also surprised investors by actually reporting it had $23 billion in litigation reserves on its "fortress balance sheet," the term repeatedly used by JPMorgan CEO James Dimon.
JPMorgan is expected to enter settlements with the Justice Department and regulators covering criminal and civil investigations of the company's securitization of mortgage loans, as well as other mortgage-related areas. The total settlement cost to the company could be as high as $13 billion, according to various media reports. The first part of the big round of settlements was announced Friday, with the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) -- which regulates Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FMCC) -- announcing a $5.1 billion agreement.