JPMorgan: Bank on slow and steady growth

With the "stress test" behind it, the clouds are clearing for this leader in the financial sector.

By TheStockAdvisors Apr 2, 2012 9:45AM
By Mike Cintolo, Cabot Top Ten Trader

Our technical screens generally don't uncover many mega-cap companies like JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), with sales of $111 billion and a market cap of $172 billion.

But the the stock is one of the strongest in the market now because investor perception of the financial group has taken a sharp turn for the better. There are two main reasons for that.

First, JPMorgan and other big players in the financial field passed the Fed’s recent “stress tests,” lowering any remaining fear that another 2008 might crop up again should the world take a turn for the worse. 

Second, passing that test allowed these firms to embark on significant, shareholder-friendly moves with their cash.

In JPMorgan’s case, it hiked its dividend by 20% (now 30 cents per quarter, with an annual yield of 2.7%) and announced a $15 billion share repurchase authorization, up to $12 billion of which could take place in 2012. 

CEO Jamie Dimon said that the company “expects to generate significant capital and deploy that capital to the benefit of our shareholders.” 

Combine that move with slow-but-steady growth during the next couple of years (about 10% each year) and a reasonable valuation (10 times earnings), and you get a company where institutional investors are comfortable putting money to work.

Although JPMorgan rides the financial sector’s trends (which have been mostly down in recent years), it’s held up far better than most of its peers. 

So it only makes sense that, now that the clouds are parting, the stock is helping to lead the way higher. Shares have moved up four weeks in a row, including a huge-volume ramp after the dividend/share repurchase announcement. 

Of course, JPM isn’t going to double from here, but we think the downside is limited as well. If you’re game, buying on a dip of a point or more should work out; our suggested buy range is the $43.5 to $45 area.

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