Morgan Stanley shares jump 6% as bank’s earnings top estimates on record wealth management revenue

Morgan Stanley fourth-quarter earnings are down sharply from last year, but were able top analysts expectations. Read more...

A screen displays the trading information for Morgan Stanley on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), January 19, 2022.

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

Morgan Stanley reported fourth-quarter earnings on Tuesday that exceeded Wall Street expectations, boosted by the bank’s record wealth management revenue and growth at its trading business.

Shares of the firm rose more than 6% in early trading after the results.

In the fourth quarter, net income fell to $2.11 billion, or $1.26 per share, from $3.59 billion, or $2.01 per share, a year ago, but it topped an analyst estimate of $1.19 a share from Refinitiv.

Profit has been hurt by a slowdown in deal-making over the past year, prompting the New York-based company cut about 2% of its staff in December. The job reductions impacted about 1,600 of its 81,567 employees and touched nearly every corner of the global investment bank. The firm posted severance costs of $133 million in the latest quarter.

Excluding those expenses and a tax gain of $89 million, Morgan Stanley said it earned $1.31 per share.

Revenue fell to $12.75 billion from $14.52 billion a year ago, but was higher than he $12.64 billion Wall Street was expecting, according to Refinitiv.

“We reported solid fourth quarter results amidst a difficult market environment,” Chairman and CEO James Gorman said in a statement. “Overall, 2022 was a strong year for the Firm as our clear strategy and balanced business model enabled us to deliver an ROTCE of 16% despite the complex macro backdrop.”

The company’s wealth management business, which tends to have steady returns, posted record net revenue of $6.63 billion in the latest quarter, 6% higher than a year ago. The result was helped by an increase in net interest income on higher interest rates and bank lending growth, the bank said.

Trading revenue also rose, climbing to $3.02 billion from $2.39 billion a year ago.

On the equity side, revenue fell 24% from a year ago, driven by markdowns on certain strategic investments and lower brokerage balances. But fixed income net revenue was up 15% from a year ago, reflecting stronger results in macro and credit products.

The firm’s investment banking suffered a big slowdown amid a collapse in IPOs and debt and equity issuance. Revenue from investment banking came to $1.25 billion in the fourth quarter, down 49% from a year ago. The bank said the drop was due to the substantial decline in global equity underwriting volumes and lower completed M&A transactions.

Morgan Stanley’s investment management division reported revenue of $1.46 billion, marking a 17% decline from a year ago amid the extreme market volatility brought on by the Federal Reserve’s aggressive rate hikes. The bank’s assets under management shrank to $1.30 trillion from $1.57 trillion last year.

In the latest period, the bank set aside $87 million for credit losses, compared with just $5 million in the same quarter a year ago.

Shares of Morgan Stanley have climbed nearly 8% year to date following a 13% pullback last year.

Correction: Morgan Stanley’s investment management division reported revenue of $1.46 billion, a 17% decline from a year ago. An earlier version misstated the percentage. Morgan Stanley set aside $87 million for credit losses. An earlier version misstated the figure.

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