JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), the biggest and most profitable U.S. bank, expanded last year amid “hostility” toward the industry and as economic growth stagnated, according to Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon.
“2011 was another year of challenges, both for JPMorgan Chase and for countries around the world,” Dimon wrote in a year-end e-mail to staff. “There is a lot of frustration out there and more than a little hostility toward our industry.”
Dimon, 55, respects the right of people to “speak their mind” and acknowledged their frustrations, he wrote in the Dec. 20 e-mail. Everyone has an interest in spurring the economy and creating jobs, he wrote.
JPMorgan hired 16,000 people in the U.S. in 2011, Dimon said in the letter, expanding its total workforce to more than 260,000 in a year when financial companies announced more than 200,000 job cuts and protests against Wall Street firms spread worldwide. The New York-based lender is adding about 175 branches a year in the U.S., he said.
“In the face of challenges, JPMorgan Chase is doing its part,” Dimon wrote. “We have not shrunk back.”
The U.S. economy, measured by gross domestic product, probably expanded 1.8 percent in 2011, according to economists’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg, instead of the 3.1 percent predicted a year ago.
JPMorgan, which took a $25 billion bailout from U.S. taxpayers in 2008, was among the first to repay the money. Analysts including Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s Richard Ramsden and Ed Najarian at International Strategy & Investment Group Inc. have said the lender is one of the strongest in the U.S.
“JPM employs the most comprehensive and holistic approach to risk management among the U.S. money center banks and major brokers,” Najarian, who has a “buy” rating on the firm, wrote in a research note last month. It’s “a strong, well-capitalized bank that is attractively valued, well-managed and will continue to post solid earnings growth, even against a challenging economic and interest-rate backdrop.”
JPMorgan climbed 5.6 percent to $35.12 at 2:51 p.m. in New York. The shares fell 22 percent last year.
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