What a difference a year makes. In 2018, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) was among the worst performing stock among the components of the Dow Jones industrial average. So far this year, it is the best, up 21% to $202.
Goldman Sachs earned its stock price improvement the old-fashioned way — earnings. It beat Wall Street’s expectations handily as it announced a $2.5 billion profit for the fourth quarter, up from a loss of $1.9 billion in the same quarter a year ago. The equities operations of Goldman Sachs were the primary engine of improved performance, despite late-year drops in the market.
Goldman is still dogged by a scandal in Malaysia. It helped raise a fund there called 1MDB. Some of the money disappeared, apparently into the pockets of a former head of the country, Najib Razak. Goldman says it was misled during the process. The Malaysian government suggested the problem would go away if Goldman will pay it $7.5 billion. The case could drag on, but investors appear to think it will not interfere with Goldman’s ability to do well operationally in the future. As a matter of fact, many shareholders believe that the offer by the Malaysian government is a positive development.
After the earnings announcement, MarketWatch reported:
Shares of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. soared 6.0% in morning trade, putting them on track for the best one-day post-earnings performance in seven years and to enter a new bull market, after the broker reported fourth-quarter profit and revenue beats. On the days of the previous 28 quarterly reports back to Jan. 18, 2012, when the stock rose 6.8% after fourth-quarter 2011 results were reported, the stock has gained just nine times and declined 19 times.
The stock is on its way to a better batting average after earnings, and perhaps a performance that can last well into the year.