Financial Performance

Goldman Shares Surge on Big Earnings Beat

The bank's Q4 revenue of $8.08 billion was also above estimates but its bottom line was inflated by a $467 million tax benefit.
Matthew HellerJanuary 17, 2019

Goldman Sachs reported quarterly profit that far exceeded analysts’ estimates though its bottom line was inflated by a $467 million tax benefit.

The bank’s shares jumped 9.5% to their biggest one-day gain in 10 years on Wednesday after it posted earnings of $6.04 per share for the fourth quarter of 2018. That compared to a diluted loss of $5.51 per share in the year-ago period and analysts’ estimates of $4.45 per share.

Goldman also reported revenue of $8.08 billion, beating the $7.55 billion estimate, amid a strong performance from its investment banking and investing and lending divisions that offset weakness in the fixed-income business.

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But excluding the tax benefit that Goldman received for overpaying repatriation taxes, the firm earned $4.83 per share for the last quarter of 2018.

“The market is completely missing something on the Goldman earnings,” Steve Biggar, director of financial services research at Argus Research, told MarketWatch, noting Goldman’s tax rate was only 16.2%, down from 19% in the first three quarters of the year.

Goldman CEO David Solomon emphasized the firm’s full-year results, which included double-digit revenue growth, the highest earnings per share in its history, and the strongest return on equity since 2009.

“We are pleased with our performance for the year, achieving stronger top- and bottom-line results despite a challenging backdrop for our market-making businesses in the second half,” he said in a news release.

In the fourth quarter, Goldman’s trading division produced $2.43 billion in revenue, missing the $2.58 billion estimate as fixed-income revenue declined 18% from a year earlier.

But Goldman posted $2.04 billion in revenue in its investment banking division, better than the $1.88 billion estimate, while investing and lending division produced $1.91 billion in revenue, well ahead of the $1.35 billion estimate.

“Even in a market where you had the S&P 500 down 14 percent last quarter and credit spreads widening, they were still able to generate an over 12 percent return on equity,” Devin Ryan, a JMP Securities analyst, told CNBC. “The investment banking is doing incredibly well.”