JPMorgan Is Analysts' Favorite Big Bank Stock for 2014

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- JPMorgan Chase (JPM) continues to command unwavering analyst support headed into 2014.

The bank is the favorite stock among analysts, according to rankings complied by Bloomberg. Thirty one of 41 analysts recommend the stock, while eight rate it "hold" and just two have a "sell" rating on the stock. That adds up to a rating of 4.4 out of five, according to Bloomberg's scoring system -- the best among its peers. The next best ranking goes to Citigroup (C) at 4.25, followed by Wells Fargo (WFC) at 3.88, Morgan Stanley (MS) at 3.68, Bank of America (BAC) at 3.45 and Goldman Sachs (GS) at 3.33.

Shares of JPMorgan were down 0.11% to $56.25 mid-Friday morning, having returned 32% this year. The shares trade for 1.5 times tangible book value, according to Thomson Reuters Bank Insight, 9.4 times the consensus 2014 earnings estimate of $6.01 a share and 8.9 times the consensus 2015 EPS estimate of $6.36.

Following three years of record earnings growth, JPMorgan will see an earnings decline this year, because of the third-quarter net loss, springing from $9.15 billion in provisions for litigation reserves.

During the fourth quarter, the company has entered into a landmark $13 billion settlement of residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) investigations and claims by the Justice Department and other government authorities, as well as a $4.5 billion RMBS settlement with a group of institutional investors.

JPMorgan on Dec. 4 was also hit with $109 million in fines by the European Commission for its role as one of the banks participating in "bilateral cartels relating to interest rate derivatives denominated in Japanese yen."

There were several media reports on Thursday that JPMorgan would pay more than $1 billion in penalties to the Justice Department to resolve a criminal inquiry into whether it provided sufficient warnings about Bernard Madoff, whose Ponzi scheme allegedly attracted suspicion among senior bank officials before it came to light five years ago.

S&P Capital IQ's Erik Oja, who reiterated his "strong buy" on the stock in a brief note published Thursday morning wrote that a settlement "would remove one more uncertainty over JPM."

A fourth-quarter litigation tab of at least $18.6 billion -- which for the most part was already reserved for, during previous quarters, may set a relatively clean plate for the bank during 2012.

The following chart shows the year-to-date performance of JPMorgan's stock against the KBW Bank Index (I:BKX) and the S&P 500 :

JPM Chart
data by YCharts

-- Written by Dan Freed in New York

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

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