Goldman Sachs has posted fourth quarter earnings that are well above analyst estimates for the eighth straight quarter. The company's results, posted on Tuesday 18 December, once again highlight the ability of the world's largest global investment bank to manage risk and overtake rivals in one of the toughest markets in living memory.
Fourth quarter earnings grew 2 per cent from a year ago. That may sound less than impressive, but it is serendipititous that Goldman avoided the worst pitfalls in a treacherous market that has seen rivals earnings fall drastically. The firm's investment-banking revenue rose sharply, offsetting weaknesses in some other businesses.
Goldman Sachs said it earned $3.22 billion in the period ended 30 November 2007 ($7.01 a share, compared to $3.15 billion - or $6.59 a share - a year earlier). Analysts expected the firm to earn $6.61 a share.
Net investment-banking revenue rose 47 per cent in the quarter, to $1.97 billion. But it was still down about 8 per cent from a ''particularly strong'' third quarter in 2007, during which the firm booked revenue of $1.24 billion for advising clients on deals, up 98 per cent from a year earlier.
Underwriting revenue was flat at $733 million, reflecting a slower debt market that offset rising equity issuance and initial public offerings (IPOs) in the period. Net revenue rose to $10.7 billion from $10.2 billion a year ago.
Goldman said fourth-quarter net revenue in credit products ''declined significantly'' because of unsatisfactory returns on equity investments. The company said its fixed-income, currencies and commodities business operated in a challenging environment characterised by continued deterioration in the mortgage market and weakness in the corporate credit market.