21st June 2024

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Business Industry and Financial

JPMorgan is ‘the Nvidia of banking,’ top-ranked analyst says

Amid the sea of numbers that surfaced at JPMorgan Chase’s investor day, the one that stood out to a top-read analyst is this: $17 billion.

That’s the total investment the $562 billion financial firm is going to spend on technology this year, noted large-cap bank analyst Mike Mayo. “That’s a record—no bank has ever spent $17 billion on tech in one year,” Mayo told CNBC on Monday. “That’s equal to the total expenses…for the eight largest banks and that’s what JPMorgan spends on tech alone.”

Mayo, a managing director at Wells Fargo Securities, has a penchant for speaking bluntly about banks and their leaders. Dimon has even admitted to reading his reports and enjoying their “banter.” On Monday, Mayo said JPMorgan’s investment in tech is turning JPMorgan into “the Nvidia of banking,” and Dimon into a digital leader, even if the bank CEO hasn’t “internalized” that information yet.

“They’re spending it on AI; they’re spending it on digital banking; they’re modernizing the back office; they’re trying to be the preeminent digital bank 2.0, which is the next version of banking,” said Mayo. That next iteration involves creating new products, services, relationships, and engagements that were previously unavailable in analog form, he said. “JPMorgan is at the forefront of being that digital leader,” he added.

The bank, which holds $5 trillion in client assets and employs 310,000 people, said Monday it will allocate the tech investment across its businesses and strategy. About $4.5 billion will fund products and user experiences, and $3.1 billion will go to modernization, security, and software development. The remainder will be spread across its wealth management, community, and commercial and investment banking businesses.

One thing JPM isn’t doing, noted Mayo, is buying back stock. JPMorgan shares hit a high of $205 on Monday, before dropping back to $196. According to Dimon, buying back stock at that price “is a mistake.”

On Dimon’s buyback stance, Mayo believes the CEO is borrowing a phrase from legendary investor Warren Buffett: “Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful.” 

Mayo said Dimon has a “healthy paranoia” as the CEO of a global bank because anything can hit the company. On the other hand, it’s frustrating for investors if JPMorgan doesn’t buy back stock at the current price while Dimon is selling stock for the first time in his career. In February and April, Dimon cashed out 1 million shares of JPMorgan stock, with the total proceeds valued at about $183 million. The sales were the first two in the CEO’s 19-year history at the bank, and he announced them in advance.

Overall, Dimon’s remarks and JPMorgan’s investor-day materials overall were bullish for one of Mayo’s favorite stocks, Citigroup. He quipped that Citigroup’s CEO might want to be grateful for Dimon’s stance.

“Jane Fraser should send a thank-you note to Jamie Dimon saying, ‘Thank you because your theme supports our stock.’”

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