JPMorgan is still banking's MVP: Analyst

JPMorgan Chase's latest quarterly report shows the banking giant is still the dominating force within the banking sector, CLSA analyst Mike Mayo said Thursday.

Despite reducing its assets by over $200 billion last year, JPMorgan was able to eke out flat revenues, Mayo told CNBC's "Fast Money: Halftime Report."

"The offense wasn't great, but we'll take flat revenues in an environment like this. But JPMorgan beat expectations on defense: lower expenses, lower assets. They even lightened up on risk late at the end of the quarter," Mayo said. "JPMorgan is still the LeBron James of banking."

Earlier Thursday, the company reported net income of $5.4 billion and earnings per share of $1.32 on revenue of $23.7 billion, beating estimates. Analysts expected the bank to report earnings per share of $1.26 on revenue of $22.86 billion, according to a Thomson Reuters consensus estimate.

"The businesses generated strong loan growth and credit quality, except for some stress in energy. The consumer business continues to gather deposits, outpacing the industry," CEO Jamie Dimon said in a release.

Shares of the company were up nearly 3 percent in afternoon trading.

"Loan growth is stronger than what we've seen. Also, when you start looking at net-interest margin going up 10 basis points … what you're seeing is that generally, traditional banking is doing very well, and that reflects the consumer coming back into the market and showing a little bit of momentum at this point," Marty Mosby, director of bank and equity strategies at Vining Sparks, told CNBC's "Squawk Box."

JPMorgan is the first big U.S. bank to report results since the Federal Reserve raised rates, and was one of the first big banks to announce plans to raise deposit rates for most large clients following the hike.

Citigroup and Wells Fargo, the third and fourth biggest U.S. banks, report results on Friday.

Gerard Cassidy, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, said Thursday that JPMorgan's strong earnings are a positive sign for other banks. "The numbers were good and it gives us such a real good tone for a sector that's been very hard at the start of the year," he told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street."

Nonetheless, he added, "I think the big investor fear this year is that the Federal Reserve will not come through and raise interest rates as much as everyone would like due to the global slowdown. We saw it last September after the Asian problems with the Shanghai index in August."

U.S. banks, like their global counterparts, had a tough year as falling oil prices and worries about slowing growth in China contributed to weakness in global credit markets, discouraging investors from making big bets.

Legal charges and the costs of meeting stricter capital requirements since the financial crisis have also weighed on the lenders. And even with the Fed rate hike, U.S. interest rates remain near historic lows.

That has meant that cost cutting — the one thing banks can best control — has become a main driver of profits.

JPMorgan said its total noninterest expenses fell 7.4 percent to $14.26 billion in the quarter.

JPM has been working to improve and expand its mobile platform. At the end of the third quarter in 2015, the company had the largest mobile banking base of more than 22 million customers, according to an Autonomous Research survey. JPMorgan became the first bank to top 20 million mobile users earlier this year.

CNBC's Linda Dimyan and Reuters contributed to this report.

DISCLOSURE: Mayo receives, or has received, compensation for non-investment services to JPMorgan.