Wall St. Analysts See 15% to 34% Upside in J.P. Morgan

bank vault
bank vault

It is usually interesting when Wall St. brokerage firms and research firms issue analyst coverage on each other. Sometimes the coverage is positive and sometimes it is negative. Many investors likely have to wonder just how much finger-pointing is taking place. Or maybe the analysts are talking up their own firm's value in disguise.

So far on Wednesday, we have seen two very favorable calls on J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM). The calls are also in favor of Jamie Dimon. Maybe Wall St. firms do not always bash their competitors after all.

Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC), with its Merrill Lynch unit, has maintained its Buy rating and also has raised the price target to $55 from $52. The firm raised earnings estimates to $5.85 from $5.70 for 2013, to $6.00 from $5.92 for 2014, and to $6.10 from $6.05 for 2015.

The research team said:

J.P. Morgan remains the cheapest P/E stock in our coverage universe at 7.9-times expected 2014 earnings, and given 14% tangible return potential, looks cheap on tangible book value as well. Also, if the market continues to sell risk, J.P. Morgan should outperform its peers. Lastly, we continue to get pushback that J.P. Morgan is over-owned, implying no incremental buyers for the stock.

It also said:

We name JPM one of our top picks as in our view, the stock should re-rate. The return of share buybacks in 1Q13 and the March 2013 Fed stress test should re-establish JPM as a capital return story, and give investors confidence that it is on its way to Basel III compliance. We estimate a bottoming of capital markets revenues should increase confidence in forward estimates and help improve EPS visibility, likely leading to modest multiple expansion.

The research team over at Oppenheimer maintained an Outperform rating on J.P. Morgan and gave a 12- to 18-month price target of $64.00. The bank is also on the firm's prized Top 10 List in its coverage universe. The Oppenheimer team said:

It strikes us that what was different about this year was not so much the company, its businesses, its management or strategy, but the mood of the room. Most other years, even in 2011 and 2012, there always seemed to be a cadre of attendees whose questions seemed to betray a view that surely the industry was just kicking the can down the road and was in reality surely on the precipice of calamity. That tone was replaced by ticky-tack fine grain detailed questions about cost saves, branch builds, corporate culture and the like. Boring stuff that probably bespeaks a likelihood of higher multiples.

Oppenheimer also said that J.P. Morgan is its favorite name in the group, and you cannot find this quality at eight times or nine times expected earnings. We would also point out that Oppenheimer is where Meredith Whitney used to be managing director before she started her own Meredith Whitney Advisory Group.

The long and short of the matter is that the calls imply upside of 15.5% to 34.4% to Tuesday's closing price of $47.60. Oppenheimer's $64 target and BofA's $55 price target compare to the prior consensus price target of $53.10 at Thomson Reuters. Note that this $64 target by Oppenheimer is the street high.

Shares of J.P. Morgan are up 2.5% at $48.80 so far on Wednesday, against a 52-week trading range of $30.83 to $49.68.

As a reminder, J.P. Morgan Chase ranks second on our list of the Seven Safest Banks in America for 2013.

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Analyst Calls, Banking & Finance Tagged: BAC, featured, JPM