Watch for a buying opportunity on my watch-list banks if earnings disappoint this quarter

07/07/2010 4:19 pm EST


Jim Jubak

Founder and Editor,

If you’ve been waiting for the three bank stocks I added to Jim’s Watch List on June 25 see my post )to sell off before putting in a bid, this earnings season may give you the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.

Well, for two of the three anyway. Wall Street analysts have hugely optimistic earnings forecasts out on JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Morgan Stanley (MS) that the banks are extremely unlikely to meet. Goldman Sachs (GS), the third U.S. bank on my watch list is expected to report a big drop in earnings—but investors who bid the stock up today seem to be counting on Goldman to pull a surprise out of its earnings report. If it simply meets low expectations, these shares too could sell off.

The consensus among Wall Street analysts right now calls for second quarter earnings to be up by 164% at JPMorgan Chase and by 138% at Morgan Stanley when the two banks report on July 15 and July 21 respectively. (Wall Street is looking for a 46% drop in Goldman’s earnings when it reports on July 20.)

There’s a good chance, though that those estimates of earnings growth are going to be massively high thanks to a big drop in trading income due to tougher market conditions in the second quarter of 2010. Banks are facing especially tough year-to-year comparisons for the second quarter of 2010 since the second quarter of 2009 was nearly a perfect trading environment as the financial markets continued a non-stop rally off the March bottom.

According to estimates from Bloomberg, earnings at Goldman will fall the expected 46% and earnings at JPMorgan Chase will climb just 22% instead of the projected 164%.

On any sell off on disappointing earnings, I’d look to JPMorgan Chase for my first buy.

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