Goldman Sachs' results beat forecasts despite trading drop

Goldman Sachs' third-quarter profits fell 3 percent from a year earlier, as the trading desks at Wall Street's biggest investment bank were weighed down by a slow summer that also affected most of its competition. The results still beat analysts' forecasts, however.

The Wall Street bank said it earned a profit of $2.04 billion, or $5.02 a share, compared with a profit of $2.10 billion, or $4.88 a share, in the same period a year earlier. The firm's per-share profit rose because there are fewer Goldman shares outstanding compared with the same period a year ago. Analysts had been looking for Goldman to post a profit of $4.17 a share, according to FactSet.

Goldman's trading desks, which are weighted toward bonds, currencies and commodities, struggled this quarter, as did those at its competitors JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America.

Net revenue in that business was $1.45 billion, down 26 percent from a year earlier. Markets have been abnormally quiet this year, which has hurt investment banks' trading profits since they benefit when markets are more active.

Despite the struggling trading operation, Goldman's investment banking business had an especially good quarter, reporting a 17 percent rise in revenue. Revenue from underwriting and companies turning to Goldman's investment bankers for advice both increased during the quarter.

Goldman's return on common equity, a measurement of a bank's profitability by showing how well it performs with the assets on its books, was 10.9 percent in the quarter. Investment banks like Goldman aim for that measurement to be above 10 percent.

In a statement, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein called the firm's overall performance so far this year "solid."

Company-wide revenue was $8.33 billion in the quarter, compared with $8.17 billion a year earlier. Analysts were looking for Goldman to have revenue of $7.53 billion.

Goldman's stock fell $2.17, or 0.9 percent, to $240.24 in early morning trading.