Analyst sees little stock hit from JPMorgan hearing

A Senate subcommittee will ask tough questions about the London Whale's $6 billion losses but the bad news has already been absorbed by the market.

By TheStreet Staff Mar 15, 2013 12:39PM

thestreet logoDollar bills floating over U.S. Capitol copyright CorbisBy Shanthi Bharatwaj

JPMorgan Chase's (JPM) Senate subcommittee hearing will probably generate plenty of negative headlines, but it is unlikely to have much impact on the stock, according to a report from KBW analyst Brian Gardner.

On Friday, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations led by Senator Carl Levin (D., Mich) will question officials from the bank on the "London Whale" trade that caused more than $6 billion losses last year.

The subcommittee's report released Thursday afternoon said the bank officials ignored warnings about the increasing riskiness of the trades in its synthetic credit portfolio and misled investors and regulators about the scope of its losses.

Ina Drew, who oversaw the trades, will be testifying for the first time. Former CFO Doug Braunstein and former risk managers at the unit will also appear before the committee.

Still, the Senate hearing is likely to be "more smoke than fire" according to Gardner's report Friday, as there has been "significant disclosure" about the trades already. CEO Jamie Dimon has already testified twice before Congress and the management has been questioned on the issue at various earnings calls and conferences over the past year.

The analyst draws a comparison to the subcommittee's 2010 hearing on Goldman Sachs regarding its Abacus deal. The investment bank was taken to task for selling securities with little or no disclosure that they were created by hedge fund investor John Paulson, who was betting against them.

"In both situations, most of the bad news is already known by the market and priced in prior to the hearings," the analyst wrote in the report.

"In [Goldman]'s case, the SEC had announced on April 16, 2010 that it was charging the firm with fraud and the complaint filed by the SEC provided much of the information that would be raised at the congressional hearing. The biggest sell-off in [Goldman] related to this matter was on April 16 and not at the April 27 congressional hearing," says the analyst. On the day of the hearing, Goldman's shares actually eked out a small gain and was up 2.5% the day after.

JPMorgan shares too performed well when Dimon last appeared before the Senate Banking Committee, the analyst points out.

Still, it is worth noting that Dimon will not be appearing before the Senate today and it remains to be seen if his colleagues can manage to pull off his cool and confident demeanor when taking under fire.

Shares of JPMorgan are also down by 2.08%, though that could also be partly due to the bank receiving only a "conditional" approval for its capital deployment plan.

For more on the bank's performance in the stress test, read TheStreet's BB&T Capital Plan Rejected By The Fed. For more on the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations report, read TheStreet's Senate Report Details JPMorgan Trading Abuses.


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