Morgan Stanley shares rise on earnings beat

Industries Reuters

The corporate logo of financial firm Morgan Stanley is pictured on the company's world headquarters in New York (Copyright Reuters 2017)

Morgan Stanley reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday, driven by strength in its investment banking and wealth management businesses.

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Shares of Morgan Stanley, which wraps up the quarterly earnings season for the big lenders, were up 2.5 percent at $46.29 in premarket trading.

The lender's wealth management business had its best quarter in more than three years, with revenue rising 8.9 percent to $4.15 billion.

The business, which the bank has been building out for a reliable income stream, generated a 25 percent pretax margin, in line with Chief Executive James Gorman's stated target.

Investment banking revenue jumped 25 percent to $1.53 billion as an active debt and equity capital market activities drove up underwriting fees.

"Our second quarter results demonstrated the resilience of our franchise in a subdued trading environment," Gorman said.

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Trading revenue declines at Morgan Stanley, which has worked to turn around its bond trading business by appointing new leadership and cutting staff, were modest compared with arch rival Goldman Sachs, which reported a 40 percent fall in bond trading revenue.

At Morgan Stanley, overall trading revenue fell about 3 percent, while bond trading revenue fell 4.5 percent.

Bond trading has spelt trouble for the big U.S. banks this quarter, making comparisons difficult with the year-ago period when banks handled high volumes of trade following Britain's vote to exit the European Union.

Morgan Stanley said equities trading, a business in which it is typically strong, rose to $2.2 billion from $2.1 billion.

The bank's 9.1 percent return on equity, a measure of profitability, was well within the 9 percent to 11 percent target Gorman wanted the bank to reach by the end of 2017.

Morgan Stanley's non-interest expenses rose 6.8 percent to $6.86 billion, even as the bank aims to reduce $1 billion in expenses later this year.

Earnings applicable to common shareholders rose to $1.59 billion in the second quarter ended June 30 from $1.43 billion a year earlier. Earnings per share rose to 87 cents from 75 cents.

Analysts on average had expected earnings of 76 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net revenue rose 6.6 percent to $9.5 billion versus the average estimate of $9.09 billion.

Through Tuesday's close, Morgan Stanley's shares had risen about 6.8 percent this year, compared with an 4.2 percent rise in KBW Bank index.

Morgan Stanley, the sixth-largest U.S. bank by assets, wraps up the quarterly earnings season for the big lenders.

(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru and Olivia Oran in New York; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)