Goldman Sachs Profit Hit by Weak Bond Trading

Reuters

Goldman Sachs Group Inc's <GS.N> profit plunged for the second straight quarter as bond trading revenue fell by a third amid market turmoil stemming from concerns about global growth.

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Revenue fell in all of the bank's major businesses except investment banking, which benefited from a surge in takeovers.The results are the latest example of how the grim trading environment is gutting Wall Street.

Turbulent trading, much stemming from worries about the flow-on effect of China's cooling economy, was aggravated by uncertainty over the timing of a U.S. interest rate hike.

"We experienced lower levels of activity and declining asset prices during the quarter, reflecting renewed concerns about global economic growth," Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein said in a statement on Thursday. (http://bit.ly/1OEqKQi)

Goldman said revenue from fixed-income, currency and commodity (FICC) trading, fell 33 percent to $1.46 billion, the biggest year-over-year drop since the third quarter of 2013. Excluding adjustments, revenue would have fallen 27 percent.

Goldman joins JPMorgan Chase & Co <JPM.N>, Bank of America Corp <BAC.N> and Citigroup Inc <C.N> in reporting a drop in revenue from bond trading. Both JPMorgan and Bank of America reported 11 percent declines in FICC revenue, while Citi's revenue from the business fell about 16 percent.

"Investors sit it out in such a market. They don't trade," said Erik Oja, an analyst at S&P Capital IQ. "Unless such a market rout happens again, I would expect Q4 trading revenues at the banks to improve compared to Q3."

Goldman, whose shares were down 1.5 percent in early trading, said its net income applicable to common shareholders fell 38 percent - to $1.33 billion, or $2.90 per share, from $2.14 billion, or $4.57 per share, a year earlier.

Analysts had expected earnings of $2.91 per share for the third quarter ended Sept. 30, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Net revenue fell 18.2 percent to $6.86 billion, far short of the average estimate of $7.12 billion.

BRIGHT SPOT

Goldman has stressed the bank's commitment to trading, even as other banks have pulled back or exited the business to focus on less-volatile activities that require less capital. New rules aimed at improving the stability of the banking system also discourage banks from trading off their own balance sheets.

Still, FICC contributed just 21.3 percent to revenue in the latest quarter, compared with about 40 percent at its peak.

One bright spot was investment banking.

Revenue in Goldman's investment banking unit, which underwrites debt and stock offerings and advises on deals, rose 6.3 percent to $1.56 billion.

The bank led U.S. target M&A advisory work this year with 124 deals worth $522.2 billion as of Sept. 18, according to Thomson Reuters data. JP Morgan was second with $460.4 billion.

Fifty-four deals greater than $5 billion had been announced in the United States by mid-September, a 68 percent increase from the same period last year.

Revenue from equities trading rose 9 percent to $1.75 billion, matching the performance of JPMorgan. Citi's revenue from the business rose 31 percent, however, while Bank of America's increased 12 percent.

However, Goldman's equity underwriting revenue experienced its weakest quarter in three years, more than halving to $190 million as many firms delayed going public in a stormy market.

IPO activity in the United States this year totaled $24.5 billion as at Oct. 9, down 42 percent compared to the same period last year, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Up to Wednesday's close of $179.51, Goldman's shares had fallen 7.4 percent since the start of the year, underperforming the S&P 500 index <.SPX> which lost 3.14 percent.

Return on equity was 7 percent, compared with 11.8 percent last year. The bank spent 16 percent less on employee compensation in the quarter.

(Reporting by Richa Naidu and Oliva Oran in New York; Additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Rachel Chitra in Bengaluru; Editing by Ted Kerr)

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