Goldman Sachs Posts 58% Increase in Profit

The firm's surprisingly strong third-quarter results were fueled by a 17% increase in revenue from its trading and investment-banking core.
Matthew HellerOctober 18, 2016
Goldman Sachs Posts 58% Increase in Profit

Goldman Sachs reported surprisingly strong earnings on Tuesday, breaking out of a recent slump amid a surge in revenue from its core trading division.

CFO Harvey Schwartz said the third quarter was Goldman’s best in five quarters, with revenue increasing 19% to $8.2 billion and profit climbing 58% to $2.1 billion. The profit amounted to $4.88 in earnings per share, up 68% year-over-year because of a lower share count.

Analysts had expected Goldman to generate revenues of $7.4 billion and $3.88 in earnings per share.

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The numbers represented something of a turnaround for the firm, which, the New York Post said, has been struggling “to show that it can weather the rough markets and up until now has produced only mediocre returns.” In the first quarter, profits plunged 60%, marking the steepest drop of CEO Lloyd Blankfein’s tenure.

“We saw solid performance across the franchise that helped counter typical seasonal weakness,” Blankfein said Tuesday in a news release. “We continue to manage our balance sheet conservatively and are benefiting from the breadth of our offerings to clients.”

As The Wall Street Journal reports, Goldman “has recently been sketching out a future that includes retail deposits, new technology and online loans.” But it was the firm’s trading and investment-banking core that buoyed the third-quarter results, posting a 17% rise in revenues to $3.7 billion.

Revenue from fixed-income, currency and commodity trading — Goldman’s specialty — increased 34% to $1.96 billion, reflecting significantly higher net revenues in interest rate and credit products, as well as higher net revenues in mortgages.

At its investment bank, Goldman’s 18% rise in debt and equity underwriting fees helped offset a 19% decline in M&A advisory fees, putting overall revenues at $1.5 billion, or a 1% decline.

The “broader story” for Goldman “is how the firm is succeeding in its shrink-to-grow strategy,” Forbes said. “Not only is Goldman buying back shares, putting its basic share count at a record low of 418 million shares outstanding, it also is keeping a lid on headcount and expenses.”