Finance

Jamie Dimon says JPMorgan stock is too expensive: ‘We’re not going to buy back a lot’

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Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, testifies during the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing titled Annual Oversight of Wall Street Firms, in the Hart Building on Dec. 6, 2023.
Tom Williams | Cq-roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

Jamie Dimon thinks shares of JPMorgan Chase are expensive.

That was the message the bank’s longtime CEO gave analysts Monday during JPMorgan’s annual investor meeting. When pressed about the timing of a potential boost to the bank’s share repurchase program, Dimon did not mince words.

“I want to make it really clear, OK? We’re not going to buy back a lot of stock at these prices,” Dimon said.

JPMorgan, the biggest U.S. bank by assets, has seen its shares surge 40% over the past year, reaching a 52-week high of $205.88 on Monday before Dimon’s comments dinged the stock. That 12-month performance beats other banks, especially smaller firms recovering from the 2023 regional banking crisis.

It also makes the stock relatively pricey as measured by price to tangible book value, a commonly used industry metric. JPMorgan shares traded recently for around 2.4 times book value.

‘A mistake’

“Buying back stock of a financial company greatly in excess of two times tangible book is a mistake,” Dimon said. “We aren’t going to do it.”

Dimon’s comments about his company’s stock, as well as an acknowledgement that he may be nearing retirement, sent the bank’s shares down 4.5% Monday.

To be clear, JPMorgan has been repurchasing its stock under a previously authorized buyback plan. The bank resumed buybacks early last year after taking a pause to build up capital under new expected guidelines.

Dimon’s guidance simply means it is unlikely the program will be boosted anytime soon. JPMorgan is likely to purchase shares at a $2 billion to $2.5 billion quarterly clip, Portales Partners analyst Charles Peabody wrote in a March research note.

The JPMorgan CEO has often resisted pressure from investors and analysts that he deemed short-sighted. When interest rates were low, Dimon kept relatively high levels of cash, rather than plowing funds into low-yielding, long-term bonds. That helped JPMorgan outperform other lenders, including Bank of America, when interest rates jumped higher.

Underappreciated risks

Dimon’s desire to hoard cash is not just because of impending capital rules. On multiple occasions Monday, he said he was “cautiously pessimistic” about economic risks, including those tied to inflation, interest rates, geopolitics and the reversal of the Federal Reserve’s bond-buying programs.

Markets are currently underappreciating those risks, Dimon said. For instance, prices of high-quality corporate bonds do not adequately reflect the potential for financial stress, Dimon said.

“The investment grade credit spread, which is almost the lowest it’s ever been, will be dead wrong,” Dimon said. “It’s just a matter of time.”

Since 2022, Dimon has warned of an economic “hurricane” set off by geopolitical risks and quantitative tightening. While the continued strength of the economy has surprised many on Wall Street, including Dimon, his concerns have informed his decision-making process ever since.

“We’ve been very, very consistent — if the stock goes up, we’ll buy less,” he said Monday. “When it comes down, we’ll buy more.”

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