Financial Performance

Goldman Q4 Profit Dives as Expenses Jump 42%

The bank set aside $1.1 billlion for legal costs and spent heavily on employee compensation and benefits.
Matthew HellerJanuary 16, 2020

Goldman Sachs missed quarterly earnings estimates as a $1.1 billion litigation charge and heavy spending on technology and compensation drove its operating expenses up 42%.

For the fourth quarter, the bank’s revenue rose 23% to $9.96 billion, led by a 33% increase from global markets, by far its largest business. Analysts had expected revenue of $8.51 billion.

But profit dipped 22% to $4.69 share, missing estimates of $5.47 per share, as operating expenses rose to $7.3 billion from $5.6 billion.

Drive Business Strategy and Growth

Drive Business Strategy and Growth

Learn how NetSuite Financial Management allows you to quickly and easily model what-if scenarios and generate reports.

“The increase in operating expenses compared with the fourth quarter of 2018 primarily reflected significantly higher compensation and benefits expenses and net provisions for litigation and regulatory proceedings,” Goldman said in a news release.

It also cited higher expenses related to consolidated investments, technology, and its nascent consumer banking business.

The litigation costs include the $1.1 billion provision arising from an impending settlement of allegations that two Goldman bankers and a Malaysian financier orchestrated a bribery scheme to land deals to underwrite bonds issued by a Malaysian state development fund known as 1MDB.

Goldman is in advanced negotiations with the U.S. Department of Justice to pay about $2 billion to resolve the matter, CNBC reported.

The bank’s global markets results benefited from a 63% jump in bond trading revenue to $1.77 billion, exceeding the $1.16 billion estimate, and a 12% increase in stock trading to $500 million. Asset management revenue rose 52% to $3 billion on gains in public and private equity holdings.

In the new consumer and wealth management division, revenue increased 8% to $1.41 billion amid rising assets under management and deposits.

The fourth-quarter report came as Goldman prepares for its first investor day later this month, where CEO David Solomon will disclose the results of a business review and his plans to accelerate growth and hit new financial targets.

“Strong performance in the fourth quarter helped us to deliver solid results for the year, while continuing to invest in new businesses,” Solomon said. “We aim to drive higher returns in the future and look forward to sharing our strategic goals and financial targets at Investor Day.”