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高盛和摩根士丹利2012从头再来

高盛和摩根士丹利2012从头再来

Cyrus Sanati 2012年01月11日
低迷的四季报已经呼之欲出,但对高盛和摩根士丹利而言,2012年在一片黯淡之中或许仍然存在一线希望的光芒。

残酷的现实

    直到上周之前,银行业分析师们还在憧憬着华尔街第四季度业绩强劲。但这些乐观的预期不得不让位于残酷的现实,因为2011年最后三个月显然没什么业务,特别是12月份。盈利预期大幅下调。举例来说,上周五投资公司Sanford Bernstein的布拉德•辛茨将高盛(Goldman Sachs)的每股收益预期从3.15美元降至77美分,将摩根士丹利(Morgan Stanley)的每股收益预期从亏损19美分降至亏损75美分。上周,其他一些分析师也下调了盈利预期,幅度同样巨大,降幅最大的是那些收入倚重投资银行和交易业务的华尔街银行。

    但高盛和摩根这两家大型经纪交易商由于不得不遵从新的银行业监管法规,遭受的打击尤其沉重。过去十年高盛靠自营交易曾获利数十亿美元,但由于在金融危机期间它已转变为一家银行控股公司,高盛不得不逐步撤出风险性业务。高盛交易部门的风险价值(VAR)2011年第三季度下降,导致该行出现上市以来第二个季度亏损。虽然普遍预计高盛凭借债券承销业务2011年第四季度能实现微利,但有形权益回报率预计将不到5%,惨淡经营。

    由于公司利润大幅下降,高盛员工们估计今年的奖金也会缩水。虽然这些员工还不至于饿死,但他们可能会开始考虑过去一年那些不眠之夜的付出是否值得。和摩根士丹利一样,高盛也在实行增效计划以提高利润率,目标是削减14亿美元成本。这相当于公司2011年运营费用的3-6%左右。削减费用固然有助于提高利润率,但不会增加公司收入。

    与此同时,市场普遍预计摩根士丹利将宣布2011年第四季度大幅亏损,部分是因为一笔高达18亿美元的一次性司法和解支出。由于公司债利差的变化,摩根士丹利预计还将公布第四季度公司债出现会计损失。

    像高盛一样,摩根士丹利的利润也随着压缩交易业务而大幅下降,这部分业务过去一直是它重要的利润来源。摩根士丹利也计划削减约14亿美元成本,包括裁减约1,600名员工,约占员工总数的3%。

    但与高盛不同,摩根士丹利最近一直在忙着再造自我,试图从内部实现提升。它正在大力发展财富管理和固定收益做市商业务,希望藉此实现利润来源多元化。虽然这两块业务的利润率相对低,摩根士丹利希望能通过规模效益带来足够多的资金。与此同时,公司需要支付与转型相关的直接和非直接成本,这也对公司第四季度的业绩产生了负面影响。

A new reality

    Up until last week bank analysts had modeled a strong quarter for Wall Street. But those upbeat expectations succumbed to reality once it became clear that there wasn't much business going on in the last three months of the year, especially in December. The cuts in expectations were drastic. For example, Sanford Bernstein's Brad Hintz on Friday slashed his earnings estimates for Goldman Sachs (GS) from $3.15 a share to 77 cents a share and its estimates for Morgan Stanley (MS) from a loss of 19 cents a share to a loss of 75 cents a share. Equally large cuts were seen by other analysts last week, with the largest cuts centered on banks that derive a large portion of their income from investment banking and trading.

    But the big broker dealers, Goldman and Morgan, seem to be the hardest hit, as they've had to comply with new banking regulations. Goldman made billions of dollars trading its own account over the last decade, but since it became a bank holding company during the financial crisis, it's been forced to pull back on risk-taking activities. The value at risk, or VAR, on Goldman's trading desks, was down in the third quarter, contributing to the bank's second-ever quarterly loss as a public company. While Goldman is largely expected to make a meager profit in the fourth quarter, thanks to its debt underwriting shop, its return on tangible equity, an efficiency ratio, is slated to come in under 5%, a dismal showing.

    Goldman employees are bracing for smaller bonuses this year as the firm's profit pie shrinks dramatically. While the bank's employees won't starve, they will probably start to wonder if all those sleepless nights last year were worth it. Goldman, along with Morgan Stanley, is implementing efficiency programs to boost profit margins, targeting $1.4 billion in cost cuts. That's equal to around 3% to 6% of the firms' 2011 operating expenses. But while cutting expenses does help profit margins, it won't grow revenue.

    Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley is largely expected to report a steep loss in the fourth quarter, due in part to a one-time, $1.8 billion legal settlement. The bank is also expected to report an accounting loss for the quarter on its debt due to a shift in credit spreads.

    Like Goldman, Morgan Stanley's profit has been hit hard as it dialed back the risk on its trading desks, eliminating what had been a major profit center at the bank. It is also targeting around $1.4 billion in cost cuts, including the elimination of some 1,600 jobs, which is around 3% of its workforce.

    But unlike Goldman, Morgan Stanley has been busy trying to reinvent itself from within. It is aggressively growing its wealth management and fixed income market making businesses in an attempt to diversify its earnings streams. While both are relatively low margin businesses, the firm is hoping that it will generate enough money through scale. In the meantime, the direct and indirect costs associated with the transition will need to be paid, negatively impacting the firm's fourth quarter results.

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