Morgan Stanley rains on its own parade

January 20, 2015

The Wall Street firm was progressing nicely in the first nine months of 2014. A dismal fourth quarter, though, exposed cracks that boss James Gorman still needs to fix. Hitting a 10 pct ROE this year may be possible, but could require the Fed’s helping hand on capital return.

Volatility is the new weather for Citi and BofA

January 15, 2015

Both joined JPMorgan in blaming market ups and downs for hurting earnings. That’s rich after years of claiming conditions were too docile. Nor can it mask the deeper problem at the two banks. Even if traders do better and one-offs are stripped out, returns remain inadequate.

Jefferies closes annus horribilis on wicked downer

December 16, 2014

The Wall Street firm racked up a $93 mln fiscal Q4 loss. Boss Richard Handler says a senior banker’s messy public divorce had no material effect. Poor trading, a bum acquisition and one big bad debt took their toll. It’s a damaging concoction that should be limited to Jefferies.

Sky-high valuations no match for earnings reality

October 28, 2014

Investors knocked more than 10 pct, or well over $3 bln, off Twitter’s worth despite sales doubling. Blame the company’s overdone value multiples. Similar knocks to Amazon, Netflix, Pandora, Chipotle and Yelp show the danger when quarterly numbers can’t match a bullish story.

Credit Suisse’s future is mid-table drabness

October 23, 2014

The Swiss group’s investment bank trumped Wall Street in Q3. But it’s no longer a top-tier player in any standalone business line, and questions linger over its ability to maintain strong fixed income returns if rates rise. Muted expectations should apply to other divisions too.

Jamie Dimon returns to challenges old and new

October 14, 2014

JPMorgan’s boss is back after cancer treatment. But results missed estimates thanks to legal and other costs. The investment bank is punching below its weight. Cybersecurity is a growing worry. Even the timing of the bank’s earnings release was off. Dimon has his work cut out.

Traders need help to make Wall Street shine

October 8, 2014

Markets are more volatile, but not enough to ensure decent Q3 profitability for Goldman, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley. That’d take up to $12 bln of extra revenue trading bonds, FX and commodities among them. Expect additional cost cuts. And other businesses will have to step up.

BofA stuck in a low-profitability trap

July 16, 2014

Several of the bank’s businesses put in a good showing for the second quarter. Trouble is, even after aggressive cost-cutting, BofA is floundering. Strip out legal costs, tax breaks and other noise, and the firm run by Brian Moynihan can only manage a 6.4 pct return on equity.

Tough markets prompt Nomura soul-searching

November 1, 2011

After a $589 million quarterly loss, the Japanese group is shrinking its investment bank. It’s not alone. But unlike peers, Nomura was sub-scale to begin with. Without a sustained market recovery, it is hard to see how Nomura’s global ambitions can survive.

Debt triangles return to haunt Chinese firms

November 2, 2011

Despite robust sales and earnings, Chinese companies’ operating cash flow deteriorated sharply in the first half - suggesting many have increased credit to customers. If they can’t pay, a wave of ugly bad debt could hit companies and their lending banks.