Certainly no one cheered when Bank of America (BAC) and Goldman Sachs (GS) announced big one-time hits from the recently passed tax bill, but as with JP Morgan Chase (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC) last week, the big deal for investors was what these huge financial institutions had to say about future quarters.
And on that Bank of America and Goldman Sachs delivered differing degrees of optimism–which difference was reflected in the stocks’ performance after this morning’s pre-opening report of fourth quarter 2017 earnings. As of noon New York time today Bank of America was off slightly to $31.06 (down 0.58%) and Goldman Sachs sported a bigger decline of 2.03%.
Bank of America reported 47 cents a share run earnings for the quarter, ahead of the 45 cents a share expected by analysts. Interest income rose by $1.2 billion (11%) thinks to loan growth and higher interest rates. This follows on a $1 billion increase in net interest income last quarter. Revenue climbed by 10% in consumer bank as loans increased by 9%. In its Global Wealth and Investment Management unit, revenue increased by 7% on a $243 increase in total client balances to a record of almost $2.8 trillion.
On its conference call, management exuded confidence on future loan growth. And, extremely importantly for investors, said that it was moving toward a 30% dividend payout ratio. And if after tax earnings go up, dividends will rise too, although the board hasn’t made any decisions on that. The stock current yields 1.54%.
Goldman Sachs wasn’t quite as forthcoming about future quarters. The company did beat–excluding that hit from the tax bill–with earnings of $5.68 a share, 73 cents a share better than Wall Street expected. Revenue fell by 4..2% year over year although the reported $7.83 billion beat projections for $7.64 in revenue. Net revenue in investment banking were 44% high year over year, in financial advisory series 9% higher year over hear, and in underwriting 76% higher year over yar.
The problems came in net revenue from trading–fixed income, currency, and commodities–were revenue fell to just $1 billion in the quarter, down 50% from the fourth quarter of 2016.
The problem for some investors today was that in its conference call while Goldman Sachs said it saw commodities headwinds easing toward the end of 2017, the company declined to give guidance on its schedule for buying back shares in the first half of 2018 and indeed said that it thought that the pace of buybacks would slow in the the first half of the year. That would remove an important current prop for the share price.
Next companies up on the earnings hit parade are Morgan Stanley (MS) before the open tomorrow and IBM (IBM) after the close.