Wells Fargo Has Strong Earnings While Citigroup Falters

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Konrad called the earnings figures "a fairly soft quarter by their standards," but a lower tax rate and low investment banking pay-to-revenue-ratios, known as compensation ratios, worked in the bank's favor.

Konrad said JPMorgan is "top" in the universal bank space given its diversified business mix, strong balance sheet and near-term potential for a return on equity.

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, said in a statement, "We believe these returns were reasonable given the environment, although the return for the fourth quarter was modestly disappointing."

Because of the extended European sovereign debt crisis, Keefe, Bruyette and Woods recently lowered earnings estimates at four of the universal banks, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

In the third quarter, "dramatic volatility" negatively impacted bank earnings, including Goldman Sachs, which reported its second quarterly loss as a public company. Goldman Sachs will report its earnings Wednesday.

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