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JPMorgan earnings marred by massive legal bill

JPMorgan Chase swung to a loss in the third quarter, the mega bank reported on Friday, as a litany of legal and regulatory problems forced the U.S.'s largest bank to disburse more than $9 billion in litigation-related fees.

Including items, the financial services giant posted a loss of $380 million, or 17 cents per share, compared with net income of $5.71 billion, or $1.40 per share, a year earlier. Excluding legal costs, JPMorgan earned $1.42 a share on revenue of $23.9 billion. Analysts had expected JPMorgan to report a quarterly profit of $1.20 per share on $23.94 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

A JPMorgan sign is seen outside the Los Angeles office tower housing the financial services firm's offices.
Robyn Beck | AFP | Getty Images
A JPMorgan sign is seen outside the Los Angeles office tower housing the financial services firm's offices.

The banking behemoth is currently grappling with a raft of governance issues, most stemming from its lending and trading practices. The bank disclosed it currently held $23 billion in legal reserves, a war chest analysts believe should help JPMorgan pay any future claims.

(Read more: What to look for as earnings season starts up)

"We continuously evaluate our legal reserves, but in this highly charged and unpredictable environment, with escalating demands and penalties from multiple government agencies, we thought it was prudent to significantly strengthen them," CEO Jamie Dimon said in a statement.

"While we expect our litigation costs should abate and normalize over time, they may continue to be volatile over the next several quarters," he added.

Just as the bank appeared to move beyond the highly-charged trading scandal known as the "London Whale," Dimon was forced to contend with a host of investigations by the Department of Justice into its mortgage securities trades. JPMorgan has come under heavy scrutiny for its actions during the 2008 worldwide financial pandemic, when it rode to the rescue of now-defunct Bear Stearns.

On a conference call with analysts and investors, CFO Marianne Lake said litigation expenses would "normalize over time". She added that the $9.2 billion expense included mortgage and 'Whale'-related matters that have yet to be concluded.

(Read more: Wells Fargo sees record profit in third quarter)

"The board continues to seek a fair and reasonable settlement with the government on mortgage-related issues – and one that recognizes the extraordinary circumstances of the Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual transactions, which were undertaken at the request or encouragement of the U.S. government," said Dimon.

Later on a conference call, Dimon added that the bank would prefer to settle litigation, saying lengthy battles against regulators were difficult to win.

Earlier this week, reports surfaced that JPMorgan was planning to exit certain types of lending in an effort to reduce exposure to questionable or non-profitable practices. The bank confirmed that on Friday, saying it would depart "non-core" products that included Canadian money orders, student loans, identity theft protection, and check cashing business lending.

Profit in the bank's corporate and investment banking segment jumped by 12 percent, although revenue edged down to $8.2 billion from a year ago. Banking revenue rose by 2 percent to $2.9 billion, while investment banking fees rose $1.5 billion, up 6 percent amid a surge equity underwriting.

Net consumer and community banking income at the bank rose by 15 percent to $2.7 billion, yet the segment's revenues fell by 13 percent from the comparable year-ago period to $11.1 billion. Meanwhile, net income in its mortgage banking segment jumped by 13 percent to $705 million, helped by a dip in credit loss provisions.

JPMorgan shares initially popped higher after the report, but dipped in late morning trade on the New York Stock Exchange. (Click here to get the company's latest quotes.)

--CNBC's Margaret Popper and Kayla Tausche contributed to this story.

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