MarketWatch First Take
J.P. Morgan's loss: small enough to save Dimon7/13/12 10:37 AM ET (MarketWatch)
SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Jamie Dimon isn't dead yet.
When it was revealed Friday, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.'s (JPM) $4.4 billion loss was notable for what it didn't do as much as what it did. .
The losses (now close to $5.8 billion) sank earnings by 8.7%. Yet the company reported a $4.96 billion profit, still good enough to blow past Wall Street estimates.
What the losses tied to the "London whale" trades didn't do, is unleash a big surprise on Wall Street. Dimon comes out of this looking in charge, not out of touch or impotent. Read "Is J.P. Morgan too big to manage?"
To the contrary, as the "beat" on the estimates suggests, along with the sharp rise in J.P. Morgan stock after the opening bell (it was up 4%), Dimon had managed Wall Street expectations in the last few weeks, culminating with a face-to-face meeting with more than a dozen analysts this week.
The result was tempered expectations about what J.P. Morgan would report. The unwritten magic number was a $5 billion loss for the quarter. Go over it, and investors would have been spooked. Stay under it: J.P. Morgan and Dimon appear in control.
This kind of earnings and expectation management isn't to be taken lightly. One only needs to look at Dimon's former counterpart at
Unlike Diamond, who seemed to be eaten alive by the scandal over fixing interest rates, Dimon has used a clear message of culpability and isolation to manage the London whale fallout which he said "has shaken our company to the core."
This understates the issue a little. For one, J.P. Morgan has lost nearly $6 billion from this botched trade. Also, the industry has been shaken to the core, for Dimon was its de facto face.
Does that make Friday a disaster for the bank and its CEO? It depends on what you were expecting.