Morgan Stanley positioned for Fed-fueled liftoff

October 19, 2016

Solid trading and cost cuts left the third-quarter return on equity just shy of CEO James Gorman's 2017 target. Rate hikes would help the firm's lending unit. The bank is one of the best capitalized, and it could rival Goldman's ROE if watchdogs let it buy back more shares.

ValueAct’s Morgan Stanley logic goes only so far

August 16, 2016

The activist's $1 bln-plus stake comes with support for CEO James Gorman. Fund boss Jeff Ubben reckons investors just don't get the firm. In fact, they fully grasp its volatile, low returns. There's room for the stock to rise. But the serious upside case involves radical change.

Morgan Stanley growth plays 2016 version of Godot

April 18, 2016

The Wall Street firm’s $1.1 bln Q1 showing makes it unlikely CEO James Gorman will this year hit his 10 pct return on equity target. Even giving investors all the bank’s excess capital wouldn’t do the trick. Cost cuts might help, but higher earnings are taking forever to arrive.

Viewsroom: Coal bust, Bank earnings, Millennial media

April 15, 2016

Peabody Energy's bankruptcy gives Big Oil a glimpse into the future, while energy losses are just one issue U.S. lenders have to contend with. Plus: startup news outlets face age-old problems.

Banks can’t rely on lifeboats when Titanic sinks

April 13, 2016

JPMorgan is among five big U.S. firms that failed the living wills test. That’s because they counted on liquidity from other subsidiaries that could be cut off from providing aid when things go awry. The regulators’ message to Wall Street is clear: every man for himself will prevail in the next crisis.

Morgan Stanley tackling final profits puzzle piece

December 1, 2015

CEO James Gorman may lay off a quarter of fixed-income traders. The unit’s wild quarterly swings usually decide whether the firm hits or misses financial-return targets. While cuts will help, what the bank does with the division’s product mix and capital would be more telling.

Morgan Stanley Q3 casts doubt on low-risk strategy

October 19, 2015

The bank’s $740 mln profit equates to a 3.9 pct ROE, the worst of any big bank. Adding back one-offs takes that only to the 7 pct Goldman managed. CEO James Gorman promised a safer and more solid enterprise than its rival. On this showing, it’s more boring without the benefits.

Wall Street lead over EU banks looks set in stone

June 17, 2015

European trading and advisory revenue is down 30 pct since 2010 while U.S. investment banking has grown. Now Deutsche Bank and HSBC are cutting further, even more ground will be ceded. The region’s tentative recovery and capital markets project offer only slim hope of a reversal.

Morgan Stanley Q1 rivals Goldman by different path

April 20, 2015

James Gorman’s firm had its best quarter in years. Its Wall Street competitor still has the edge with returns and book value growth. By one key metric, though, investors value Morgan Stanley more highly. Gorman’s strategy, which downplays volatile trading, is starting to pay off.

Google’s CFO search should have it feeling lucky

March 24, 2015

There’s a dearth of executives with the financial, tech and government experience needed to help run a $400 bln company. Even fewer women fit the bill. Silicon Valley and Wall Street just can’t find enough Ruth Porats fast enough. The challenge is to create more like her.