Morgan Stanley Expects Muted Performance to Continue in 2H19

At the Barclays investors’ conference, Morgan Stanley MS did not provide any numerical guidance. Nonetheless, the company CFO Jonathan Pruzan’s comments indicated continued dismal business performance for second-half 2019.

Pruzan stated that equity trading has been slow so far this quarter and also, the new listings are "clearly much slower" in investment banking business. These are expected have an adverse impact on Institutional Securities segment’s revenues.

Following an impressive performance in 2018, the segment has been facing a challenging operating backdrop, which resulted in a 13% year-over-year fall in revenues in the first six months of 2019. Both trading and investment banking businesses recorded a decline in top line.

Since the beginning of the year, several concerns including ambiguity related to the U.S.-China trade war and Brexit, and expectations of global economic slowdown have persisted. Also, the central bank’s accommodative monetary stance and many geopolitical matters continue to lead to lower client activity. Operating backdrop is expected to remain the same during the back half of the year.

Additionally, at the investors’ conference, the CFO commented that “dramatically different” interest rate scenario (flattening/inversion of yield curve and lower rates) is likely to hurt net interest income. The same has been witnessing an improving trend over the past several quarters driven by higher interest rates and decent loan demand. However, the uptrend is expected to get reversed in the near term following rate cuts and muted loan demand.

Therefore, all these are likely to have an adverse impact on Morgan Stanley’s profitability in the quarters ahead. Nevertheless, the company is leveraging its business mix and global client footprint to boost growth.

The stock has rallied 10.8% so far this year, outperforming the industry’s rise of 10.2%.

Currently, Morgan Stanley carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Similar to Morgan Stanley, top management of several other global banks discussed concerns and macroeconomic factors affecting the banking sector at the same conference. Notably, Bank of America BAC, Citigroup C and Well Fargo WFC presented disappointing near-term outlook. (Read more: Bank Stocks Jump Despite Disappointing Near-Term Outlook)

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