JPMorgan's ( JPM) solid third-quarter earnings performance only adds to the pressure on Citi's ( C) embattled CEO Charles Prince. While Jamie Dimon's bank clearly isn't immune to the credit crunch that has crushed earnings at rivals including Citi and Merrill Lynch ( MER) -- JPMorgan reported a $1.3 billion writedown -- JPMorgan demonstrated how a bank can be big without being clumsy. JPMorgan made $3.4 billion, or 97 cents a share, for the quarter ended Sept. 30, up from the year-ago $3.3 billion, or 92 cents a share. The results, which beat Wall Street estimates by 7 cents, stood in sharp contrast to the sorry notes struck Monday by Prince at Citi, where net income tumbled 57% from a year ago due to some massive writedowns in leveraged lending and structured debt. So while Citi shares touched a new 52-week low in heavy trading Wednesday, dipping below $44 for the first time since September 2005, JPMorgan rose 4%. Prince famously said this summer that Citi would "keep dancing" to the music of easy money that fostered the huge buyout boom. But now that the leveraged-deal dancing's done, the bust has caused much embarrassment to Citi's chief -- to the point where the 57-year-old Prince's future is debated in the media daily. This morning rumors were floating that Citi's board may be in a special meeting to consider Prince's resignation. The company rebutted that report, but there's no denying that investors are eager to see the board take some sort of action.
While some directors including Time Warner ( TWX) chief Richard Parsons have expressed support for the embattled CEO, there's a sense that others on Citi's board may be losing patience with Prince. Prince's words during a Monday morning earnings call were particularly telling. He described the company's third-quarter earnings declines as "greater than would have been expected from that market dislocation" and conceded that the numbers "simply reflect poor performance." JPMorgan's solid showing will only make it harder for Citi's board to overlook that poor performance.