Goldman Sachs profit climbs as equity traders ride market rebound By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo for Goldman Sachs is seen on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, New York, U.S., November 17, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

By Saeed Azhar and Niket Nishant

(Reuters) -Goldman Sachs’ profit rose 51% in the fourth quarter as its equity traders capitalized on a recovery in markets and revenue from its asset and wealth management business rose, offsetting weakness in investment banking.

The bank reported a profit of $2.01 billion, or $5.48 per share, for the latest quarter, compared with $1.33 billion, or $3.32 per share, a year earlier.

“This was a year of execution for Goldman Sachs,” CEO David Solomon said in a statement. “With everything we achieved in 2023 coupled with our clear and simplified strategy, we have a much stronger platform for 2024.”

The bank’s shares climbed 1.7% to $384.50 in trading before the bell. They were up 12.3% last year, compared with gains of 27% for JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:) and 10% for Morgan Stanley.

Stock markets have rallied as economists and investors grow more confident the U.S. will avoid a recession. Market participants are also debating when the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates, which could act as another catalyst for activity.

Goldman’s equity trading revenue jumped 26% in the fourth quarter. Revenue from the asset and wealth management business also jumped 23% to $4.39 billion, helped by gains from equity and debt investments.

Investment banking fees fell 12% to $1.65 billion, as a decline in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) offset gains from debt and stock sales.

Revenue from fixed income, currencies and commodities (FICC) trading fell 24% as weakness in interest rate products and currencies dragged down gains from mortgage products.

HEADCOUNT

Goldman had a headcount of 45,300 at the end of December, 1% less than in the third quarter and nearly 7% lower than in the year-earlier period.

The bank laid off thousands of employees in 2023, including cuts to its workforce in January that were the largest since the 2008 financial crisis.

Goldman is among the banking giants that will pay a special assessment fee to refill a government deposit insurance fund (DIF) that was drained of $16 billion by the collapse of two regional banks last year.

It recognized a $529 million expense tied to the fee in the fourth quarter.

PLATFORM SOLUTIONS BOOST

Goldman’s platform solutions unit, which houses some of its consumer operations, reported a 12% jump in revenue to $577 million.

The jump was driven by higher average credit card balances, which cushioned the hit from markdowns related to the portfolio of GreenSky loans held for sale.

Goldman has been slimming down its ill-fated consumer business, after a reorganization in 2022 that saw it merge its traditional mainstays of trading and investment banking.

GreenSky, which facilitates home improvement loans for consumers, was sold to a consortium of investment firms led by Sixth Street Partners.

Four years after introducing a credit card with Apple (NASDAQ:), the Wall Street giant also faces a costly exit from a partnership that is seen by other lenders as too risky and unprofitable.

Goldman may need to reduce the value of its stake to tempt bidders to take its place in the partnership, Reuters reported last month. It also plans to scrap co-branded credit cards with General Motors (NYSE:).

Provision for credit losses was $577 million, compared with $972 million a year earlier, Goldman said. The bank reduced $160 million of reserves related to the transfer of the General Motors card portfolio to held for sale.

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