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Today's Outrage: JPMorgan Overdoes Optimism

JPMorgan seems a little too excited about its 10% drop in profit. Yes, it's good that it's a profit. Yes, record revenues are nice. But there's still work to do.
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JPMorgan Chase (JPM) is a little over the top in its efforts to cheer up gloomy investors.

Reading this morning's

press release

announcing a 10% drop in first-quarter net income to $2.1 billion, or 40 cents a share, I got the impression this was the best news



The bullet points at the top of the release shout out Victory! Here it is verbatim:

JPMorgan Chase Reports First-Quarter 2009 Net Income of $2.1 Billion, or $0.40 per Share* Generated record firmwide revenue of $26.9 billion and pretax, pre-provision profit of $13.5 billion (on a managed basis1): * Record revenue and net income in the Investment Bank; #1 rankings for Global Debt, Equity and Equity-related volumes and Global Investment Banking Fees * Solid growth in liability balances in Commercial Banking and Treasury & Securities Services * Washington Mutual integration on track, driving Retail Banking growth in deposits by 62% and in checking accounts by 126% * Net assets under management inflows of $119 billion over the past year in Asset Management

That certainly is good stuff, especially in this environment. But there's just a bit too much cheerleading and hyperbole in there. They are trying way too hard to prove everything is fine, in fact better than fine.

Previous earnings releases

were a little more matter of fact with straight-forward financial details in each of the bullets at the top.

This time, though, it's all about the adjectives like "record" revenue and "solid" growth. How about that record revenue? No kidding - you mean that after adding all the revenue streams from the takeover of Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual the company is bigger than it used to be? You'd hope so.

Dig a little deeper and you find that noninterest expenses jumped 50% to about $13.4 billion in part due to Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual. JPMorgan also doubled its provisions for credit losses to $8.6 billion, which is probably prudent in this environment.

I'm told by banking reporter Laurie Kulikowski that JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon was much more somber and realistic on this morning's earnings conference call, so maybe it's just the PR department that went a little nuts with this news release.

Or maybe JPMorgan wanted to make sure it got the same kind of attention that

Wells Fargo



Goldman Sachs


received for the recent reports about net profit despite all the financial doom and gloom.

No doubt JPMorgan also wants to establish some distance from

Bank of America





, which are likely to focus on operating profit to strip out painful charges and costs that will brutalize their bottom lines.

Ultimately, it's just a sign of the times. JPMorgan Chase posted a net profit and record revenue and they want to get some credit for it.

Fair enough. No need to shout about it.

Hall is the editor of

. Previously, he served as deputy editor and chief innovation officer at

The Orange County Register

and as a news manager at

Bloomberg News

in Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Washington, D.C. As a reporter, he covered business and financial markets, worked in both print and television in the U.S. and Europe, and conducted in-depth investigative coverage at

The Journal-Gazette

in Fort Wayne, Ind. His work also has been published in a variety of newspapers including

The Wall Street Journal


The New York Times


International Herald Tribune

. Hall received a bachelor�s degree in journalism and political science from The Ohio State University and has taken graduate management science courses at Boston University.