Goldman Sachs results fall, hurt by difficult markets

Investment bank Goldman Sachs said its first quarter profits dropped by 56 per cent from a year earlier, as the Wall Street firm was not immune from the difficult trading environment last quarter that hurt much of its competition.

Goldman earned $1.2 billion, or $2.68 per share, in the first quarter after payments to preferred stockholders. That’s down from $2.75 billion, or $5.94 per share, in the same quarter a year earlier.

The results beat Wall Street’s forecasts. The average estimate of eight analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $2.57 per share.

Goldman’s trading desks, often considered among the best in the business, were hit hard last quarter. Revenue from fixed income, currency and commodities trading was $1.66 billion in the quarter, down 47 per cent from a year earlier. Stock trading revenue was $1.78 billion, down 23 per cent.

“The operating environment this quarter presented a broad range of challenges, resulting in headwinds across virtually every one of our businesses,” said Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein in a prepared statement.

Another key part of Goldman’s business, advising companies on deals, was hurt by the volatile markets last as corporate deal making was put on hold last quarter. Fees from financial advising were down 20 per cent in the quarter and underwriting revenue was down 27 per cent.

Goldman posted total revenue of $6.34 billion in the period, down 40 per cent from a year earlier, which fell short of analysts’ forecasts. Four analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $7.12 billion.

Goldman’s stock rose $3.61, or 2.3 per cent, to $162.66 in early trading.