Chase Manhattan Corp., the nation's third-largest bank holding company, said Monday that its fourth-quarter profit rose 9%. Fifth-ranked J. P. Morgan & Co. posted a 33% gain, and No. 10 First Chicago Corp. reported a 16% profit increase.
Three days earlier, sixth-ranked Chemical New York Corp. reported a 19.7% gain in its fourth-quarter profit.
"The results look terrific," said Lawrence Cohn, who follows banking stocks for the investment firm Dean Witter Reynolds Inc.
He traced some of the improvement to gains in trading bond and foreign currency holdings. He said most banks are also reporting "fat profit margins" on their loans.
"That is because banks have been slow in reducing their prime rates," Cohn said. He said the rates that banks have had to pay to obtain funds have been falling more rapidly than their yields from loans.
Chase said its fourth-quarter profit rose to $120 million from $110 million a year ago. Its profit per share fell, however, to $2.56 from $2.78 because of increased dividend requirements for preferred stock and issuance of common stock.
For the year, Chase said its profit fell 6% to $406 million from $430 million in 1983. Profit per share slipped to $9.01 from $10.96.
Chase said it had higher net interest income than a year earlier, but those gains were offset somewhat by a larger provision for possible loan losses.
Morgan, parent of the nation's fifth-largest bank, Morgan Guaranty Trust Co., said its fourth-quarter profit rose to $167.5 million, or $1.90 a share, from $126.1 million, or $1.44 a share, a year earlier.
For the year, Morgan's profit rose 17% to $537.6 million, or $6.07 a share, from $460 million, or $5.26 a share.
It said the gain resulted from increases in non-interest operating income, a lower provision for possible loan losses and a decline in income taxes.
The parent company's assets amounted to $64.1 billion at the end of 1984, up from $58.0 billion a year earlier. Morgan Guaranty's deposits were $39.997 billion, up from $39.473 billion a year earlier.
First Chicago said its fourth-quarter earnings rose to $55.5 million, or $1.03 a share, from $47.9 million, or $1 a share, in 1983.
It represented a marked turnabout from its $71.8-million loss in the third quarter. Chairman Barry Sullivan said it showed First Chicago "has returned to more normal levels of profitability."
For the full year, the parent company of First National Bank of Chicago, the nation's seventh largest, said its profit fell sharply to $86.4 million, or $1.19 a share, from $183.5 million, or $3.92 a share, a year earlier.
Sullivan said the full-year results were depressed by the substantial provision for loan losses taken in the third quarter, which amounted to $308 million compared to $35 million in 1983.
First Chicago's assets rose to $39.8 billion at the end of 1984 from $36.3 billion a year earlier. Figures for deposits at First National alone were not available.