Leading investment and commercial banks are vital to the international financial system. They are responsible for money transfers, investments, currency exchange, hedging corporate exposures, etc. Banks may be exposed to potential risks in an environment of changing interest rates, or it may be a potential opportunity for them to improve their profits. Given the volume of lending activities, commercial banks' performance seems most sensitive to a change in interest rates. Investment banks, meanwhile, through their handling of investment projects and trading activities, have the potential to profit when interest rates change significantly.
How did the banks perform?
JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Bank of America (BAC) and Goldman Sachs (GS) are among the largest and most influential banks in the world. In the second quarter, they generated revenues of $31.6 bln, $22.8 bln and $11.9 bln, respectively. Out of them, only JPM failed to beat Wall Street analysts' expectations in terms of revenue.
JPM and BAC expect some borrowers to default through the difficult economic situation in the US. As a result, the former has set aside reserves of $428 million to cover non-performing loans.
Figures from leading banks seem to indicate that, after a record 2021, the number of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and IPOs is declining significantly. BAC reported a decline in investment banking deal volumes in Q2 after last year's historic highs of a whopping 47%. However, the impact on books was offset by a 22% growth in net interest income, most likely driven by rapidly rising interest rates.
Moreover, rising interest rates due to the popularity of fixed-rate lending in the US do not seem to translate as strongly as one would expect into corporate profits.
Irresponsible credit policies seem to be hitting the sector's performance hard, as can be seen in the share prices of JPM and BAC. They have already fallen 28.4 and 25.3% respectively this year. However, the announcement of the suspension of buybacks is also not a good sign and may indicate that management might consider the current share price too high.
Goldman Sachs, which shares have lost 13.5% this year and surprised positively relative to expectations on Wall Street, appears to be a peculiar exception. Historically, GS has been relatively immune to periods of crisis, in which the company has taken advantage of high volatility to boost earnings. Nonetheless, the current situation is probably unsuitable due to its high vulnerability to declining transaction revenues (M&A) and share issues.
In contrast to the mixed and less-than-ideal performance of JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America, Goldman surprised the market with a significant increase in high-margin sales of securities to companies (especially those looking to hedge in a challenging macro environment). Income from these rose by a staggering 55% to $3.61 bln against the $2.89 bln estimated by Wall Street. Income from the sale of shares also rose more than estimated to 2.86 bln against a forecast of $2.67 bln.
Finally, JPM, BAC and GS profits were 8.6 bln (-28% year-on-year), 6.25 bln (-32% year-on-year) and $2.79 bln (-48% year-on-year) respectively. This significant decline may shatter the stereotype that a high-interest rate environment can only be beneficial for banks.
Rafał Tworkowski, Junior Market Analyst, Conotoxia Ltd. (Conotoxia investment service)
Materials, analysis and opinions contained, referenced or provided herein are intended solely for informational and educational purposes. Personal opinion of the author does not represent and should not be constructed as a statement or an investment advice made by Conotoxia Ltd. All indiscriminate reliance on illustrative or informational materials may lead to losses. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.
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