Get ready for more bloodletting in the banking sector. JPMorgan Chase ( JPM), Bank of America ( BAC), Wachovia ( WB) and SunTrust ( STI) are due to report earnings this week. Wall Street is eager to get a look at the writedowns that the banks are expected to take tied to this summer's credit crunch. "The issues that came to the forefront during the quarter will be evident in all the big banks," says David Honold, a financial services analyst at Turner Investment Partners. Lately, investors have been embracing the message that the worst of the summer's credit crunch is over. Citigroup ( C) stock has added over 3% since the bank said Oct. 1 that it would take $3.3 billion in losses tied to the souring debt markets. JPMorgan Chase is up 3.6% since then and Bank of America is up 5.1% in the same period. The gains come in spite of huge losses at a variety of big institutions on leveraged loans, structured products and mortgage backed securities. Citi took a $3.3 billion hit and Merrill Lynch ( MER) a $5.5 billion charge. Washington Mutual ( WM), Credit Suisse ( CS) and UBS ( UBS) also announced big losses tied to fixed-income setbacks. Analysts aren't sure what to expect from JPMorgan Chase, which is due to report Wednesday morning. John McDonald, an analyst at Bank of America, expects JPMorgan to take a $1 billion hit to write off 3% of its total loan financing commitments. McDonald estimates that the firm will also write down about $300 million tied to subprime mortgage exposure. Sanford Bernstein's Howard Mason predicts JPMorgan Chase will take a $2 billion hit.
BofA chief financial officer Joe Price warned last month that the summer's credit crunch will have a "meaningful impact" on its corporate and investment banking business. Sanford Bernstein's Mason predicts a $1 billion writedown. At Wachovia, CEO Ken Thompson said last month that the bank had a "modest exposure" of about 3% to 4% on the $300 billion-$400 billion of total unfunded LBO loans in the market place. That means about $12 billion of hung loans on the balance sheet. He also claimed the firm's structured products business, which is responsible for underwriting difficult-to-value securities like collateralized debt obligations, is at "very managed levels." But Jennifer Thompson, an analyst at Oppenheimer & Co., estimates Wachovia's writedowns at about $1.2 billion. SunTrust of Atlanta also said last month at the Lehman conference that earnings would be cut by at least 20 cents a share from mark-to-market writedowns in its trading book and on some mortgage loans that could not be sold in the quarter. Keith Horowitz, an analyst at Citi, estimates that SunTrust is likely to have around a $100 million mark-to-market hit before taxes on its loans held for sale and an additional $75 million reduction in SunTrust's trading book. And while investors are rewarding the banks for taking large charges now, analysts seem to agree that their atonement today doesn't mean the industry will be free of its troubles. Depending on how much the economy slows amid tighter lending standards for consumers and businesses, banks may see credit deterioration spread materially to other asset classes such as small business lending, credit card and commercial loans, analysts say. "We believe there will be lingering and meaningful impacts to earnings," warns Christopher Mutascio, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus, "even after the massive 'one-time' charges."