Trump's tax cuts added $3.7 billion to JPMorgan's profits

Chip Somodevilla / Getty ImagesJPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon
  • JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon praised President Donald Trump’s tax cuts in an annual investor letter.
  • The law gave a boost to earnings to the tune of $US3.7 billion. And the bank posted record earnings “even without the impact of tax reform.”
  • JPMorgan also said it bought back $US55 billion in stock in 2018.

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon hailed President Donald Trump’s tax cuts in the bank’s annual investor letter on Thursday, saying the law gave a boost to earnings to the tune of $US3.7 billion.

The letter outlined the bank’s record earnings performance “even without the impact of tax reform.”

JPMorgan made a record profit in 2018, posting net income of $US32.5 billion and an astonishing $US111.5 billion in sales, “reflecting strong underlying performance across our businesses.”

Dimon added: “All things being equal (which they are not), the new lower tax rates added $US3.7 billion to net income.”

“The new tax code establishes a business tax rate that will make the United States competitive around the world and frees US companies to bring back profits earned overseas,” Dimon wrote in the letter. “The cumulative effect of capital retained and reinvested over many years in the United States will help cultivate strong businesses and ultimately create jobs and increase wages.”

The bank’s fourth quarter was part of an unconventional earnings cycle for the industry, mostly because the late-arriving tax law that has caused many banks to book losses on deferred tax assets that declined in value.

Dimon praised Trump’s cuts back in January as well.

“The enactment of tax reform in the fourth quarter is a significant positive outcome for the country,” Dimon said at the time.

$US55 billion in share buybacks

In the last five years, JPMorgan says it bought back $US55 billion in stock or about 660 million shares, accounting for about 20% of the company’s common shares outstanding.

Share buybacks have garnered backlash, as critics including US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders accuse companies of exploiting their tax windfalls to benefit shareholders instead of employees.

Dimon acknowledged the criticism of buybacks, which he called a “no-brainer.” Corporate capital expenditures and R&D spend are also rising, he said, while “the benefit of tax reform is the long-term (multi-year) cumulative effect of capital retained and reinvested.”

Investment in technology, salaries

The gains from the law will be short-lived, Dimon said.

“For the long term, we expect that some or eventually most of that increase will be erased as companies compete for customers on products, capabilities and prices,” he said. “However, we did take this opportunity in the short term to massively increase our investments in technology, new branches and bankers, salaries,” philanthropy and lending.

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