Goldman Sachs (GS) Q3 Earnings Plummet on Slumping Revenues

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Weak revenues significantly impacted The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. 's GS third-quarter 2015 results, which recorded a negative earnings surprise of 5.8%. The company reported earnings per share of $2.90, missing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $3.08. Moreover, it compared unfavorably with the year-ago figure of $4.57.

Lower-than-expected results reflected a fall in revenues, aided by lower client activity levels during the quarter. However, lower expenses reflected prudent expense management.

Net income applicable to common shareholders in the quarter was $1.3 billion, decreasing 38% from around $2.1 billion recorded in the prior-year quarter.

Performance in Detail

Goldman's net revenue slumped 18% year over year to $6.9 billion in the quarter under review. Results were mainly impacted by lower net interest as well as non-interest income. Moreover, revenues lagged the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $7.3 billion.

Quarterly revenues, as per business segments, are as follows:

Investment Banking division generated revenues of $1.6 billion, up 6% year over year. Results reflected higher-than-expected financial advisory revenues, driven by elevated mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activities during the quarter. However, revenues from the underwriting business (down 14% year over year) declined, affected by lower revenues in equity underwriting, partially offset by elevated debt underwriting.

Investment Management division recorded revenues of $1.4 billion, down 3% year over year. Higher transaction revenues were fully offset by reduced incentive fees.

Investing and Lending division booked revenues of $670 million in the quarter, significantly down 60% year over year. Results reflected lower revenues from equity investments, debt securities and loans. Moreover, results were negatively impacted by decline in global equity prices during the reported quarter.

Institutional Client Services division recorded revenues of $3.2 billion, down 15% year over year. Results were impacted by significantly lower revenues in Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities Client Execution (FICC) (down 33%), marked by decreased net revenues primarily in mortgages followed by commodities, currencies and interest rate products. This was partially offset by higher revenues in credit products. However, a rise in equity trading revenues (up 9% year over year) was recorded, mainly due to higher net revenues in equities client execution.

Operating expenses decreased 5% to $4.8 billion compared with the prior-year quarter. Expenses fell largely due to lower compensation and employee benefits expenses (down 16%), partially offset by elevated non-compensation expenses.

Non-compensation expenses were $2.5 billion in the quarter, up 8% year over year, primarily due to elevated other expenses reflecting higher net provisions for litigation and regulatory proceedings. Further, elevated brokerage, clearing, exchange and distribution fees were on the downside. However, lower depreciation and amortization expenses, mainly attributed to impairment charges during the recorded were recorded.

Evaluation of Capital

Goldman exhibited a strong capital position in the reported quarter. As of Sep 30, 2015, the company's Common Equity Tier 1 ratio was 12.7% under the Basel III Advanced Approach, reflecting the valid transitional provisions.

Return on average common shareholders' equity, on an annualized basis, was 7% in the reported quarter. Goldman's book value per share of $171.45 and tangible book value per share of $162.11, both increased 1% as compared with the prior quarter.

Capital Deployment Update

During third-quarter 2015, Goldman repurchased 5.4 million shares of its common stock at an average price per share of $196.00 and a total cost of $1.05 billion. Remaining share authorization under Goldman's existing repurchase program including newly authorized shares of 60 million stands at 72.1 million shares.

In Conclusion

After posting impressive prior two quarters, Goldman disappointed in the third quarter on lower top line. Volatile markets kept investors off the market, which led to weak trading revenues. Though cost control measures bear fruit for the company, negative impact of legal provisions was visible.

Though there are concerns related to the impact of legal issues and its global exposure, equity-centric activities in the U.S. are expected to support Goldman's results in the upcoming quarters with expected recovery in the capital markets.

We expect Goldman to benefit from its well-managed global franchise, strong capital base and recent investments in the near future. Goldman launched its first ETF - ActiveBeta US Large Cap Equity ETF GSLC , in the quarter. The newly launched fund with $50 million in institutional assets is the first in the series of "ActiveBeta" funds to be launched by Goldman in the upcoming months. Given the underlying strength in the ETF market, it is a prudent decision for Goldman to expand in this area.

An investor with an appetite to absorb risks related to the market volatility should not be disappointed with an investment in Goldman over the long haul. Goldman's fundamentals remain highly promising with a diverse business model and strong balance sheet.

Moreover, Goldman is justly considered to be a value investment due to its steady dividend-yielding nature. This banking major currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Performance of other Major Banks

JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPM kick-started the third-quarter earnings, and missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate. The bank came up with adjusted earnings of $1.32 per share, delivering a negative surprise of 4.3%. The bottom line also declined 2.9% from the year-ago earnings of $1.36 per share. Weak trading activities primarily led to a decline in the overall profit for JPMorgan this time around. Revenues from trading fixed income, currencies and commodities fell 23% to $2.93 billion.

Driven by top-line growth, Wells Fargo & Company's WFC earnings of $1.05 per share in third-quarter 2015 beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a penny. Moreover, results were above the year-ago quarter earnings of $1.02 per share. Wells Fargo reflected organic growth aided by higher revenues along with strong loans and deposit balances. Moreover, a strong capital position and returns on assets and equity acted as the positives. However, higher non-interest expenses and provisions were a concern.

Lower operating expenses and negligible legal costs drove Bank of America Corporation's BAC third-quarter 2015 earnings of 37 cents per share, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 34 cents. Further, the bottom line witnessed a significant improvement from net loss of 4 cents incurred in the prior-year quarter.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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