Banking & Finance

Morgan Stanley Earnings Hit by Lower Trading Revenues

Morgan Stanley logo
Source: courtesy of Morgan Stanley
Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) reported fourth-quarter and full-year 2014 results before markets opened Tuesday. For the quarter, the big bank reported adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.47 on revenue of $7.5 billion. In the same period a year ago, the bank reported EPS of $0.50 on revenue of $8.2 billion. Fourth-quarter results also compare to the consensus estimates for adjusted EPS of $0.48 on revenue of $8.08 billion.

Adjusted EPS for the third quarter added $0.01 to the bank’s unadjusted EPS, and excludes a $0.70 per share tax benefit, a $0.40 per share charge for compensation deferrals, a charge of $0.17 per share in fair value adjustments and $0.12 charge per share for legal expenses. Quarterly revenues exclude a positive debt valuation adjustment of $223 million, compared with a negative adjustment of $368 million in the year-ago quarter.

For the full year, the Morgan Stanley reported net revenues of $34.3 billion and EPS of $2.96, compared with revenues of $32.5 billion and EPS of $1.38 in 2013. The current year included $0.21 per share in net discrete tax benefits. Analysts were expecting EPS of $2.56 on revenues of $34.26 billion.

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Morgan Stanley’s Basel III common equity tier 1 ratio at the end of December was 14.2%, and its tier 1 capital ratio was about 15.9%. The bank’s tangible book value per common share at the end of the quarter was $29.63, based on approximately 2 billion shares outstanding.

The bank did not provide guidance in its earnings release. The consensus estimate for first-quarter adjusted EPS is $0.78 on revenues of $9.42 billion. For the full year, the consensus calls for EPS of $2.91 on revenues of $36.48 billion.

The bank’s CEO said:

We finished 2014 in substantially better shape than we entered the year. We delivered strong results across several of our businesses, although overall performance was affected by the choppy market conditions of the fourth quarter.

Fixed-income trading at Morgan Stanley suffered the same fate as at the other big banks. The bank’s trading desk revenue fell 14%. Investment banking revenue was also lower than a year ago by 6.6%. Given the abundance of initial public offerings that seems a bit odd.

Shares traded down about 3% in the premarket to $33.89. The current 52-week range is $28.31 to $39.19. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of around $38.90 before the results were announced.

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