April 17 (Bloomberg) -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the fifth-biggest U.S. bank by assets, said profit fell 23% as revenue from trading bonds, currencies and commodities lagged behind Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co.
First-quarter net income dropped to $2.11 billion from $2.74 billion a year earlier, the New York-based bank said today in a statement. Earnings per share of $3.92 beat the $3.55 average estimate of 24 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The bank boosted its quarterly dividend 31% to 46 cents a share, the first increase since 2006.
Goldman Sachs, led by Chief Executive Officer Lloyd C. Blankfein, reported a 20% decline in fixed-income trading revenue to $3.46 billion and cut the size of its market bets to the lowest level since 2006. JPMorgan, the biggest U.S. bank, said last week revenue from that business fell 11% to $4.66 billion and Citigroup, No. 3 by assets, yesterday reported a 4% drop in fixed-income trading to $3.65 billion.
“Although earnings actually beat consensus, I think that the results look somewhat disappointing in comparison with the strong numbers we’ve seen out of JPMorgan and Citigroup,” Richard Staite, an analyst at Atlantic Equities LLC in London, said in a telephone interview. “The market had perhaps hoped for a real blow-out quarter from Goldman Sachs.”
Goldman Sachs rose 61 cents, or 0.5%, to $118.34 in New York trading, increasing this year’s advance to 31 percent. It declined 46% in 2011, the second-worst annual performance since Goldman Sachs went public in 1999, as profit slid to the lowest level since 2008.
Blankfein, who began cutting costs in 2011 as revenue declined for the second straight year, is banking on international expansion and a market rebound to restore profit growth. Gains in stock and corporate debt markets boosted total trading revenue 87% from the fourth quarter.
Blankfein, 57, and President Gary D. Cohn, 51, were criticized by former derivatives salesman Greg Smith in a New York Times opinion piece last month for presiding over what Smith called a decline in the firm’s commitment to client service. In a memo sent to current and former employees, Blankfein and Cohn said Smith’s view of the firm isn’t shared by most employees, adding that they would investigate his claims.
Blankfein and Cohn, approaching their sixth anniversary in their current roles, are also contending with the departure of more than 50 partners in the past year, including eight members of the management committee.
Net income attributable to common shareholders, which includes the cost of preferred dividends, climbed to $2.07 billion from $908 million, or $1.56 per fully diluted share, a year earlier. Excluding a $1.64 billion one-time dividend paid to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., last year’s first quarter net income for common shareholders was $2.55 billion, or $4.38 per share.
Revenue at Goldman Sachs fell 16% to $9.95 billion from $11.9 billion a year earlier, beating the $9.41 billion average estimate of 15 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Book value per share rose to $134.48 from $130.31 at the end of December.
“Our mix of businesses gives the firm significant room for revenue growth as economic and market conditions continue to improve,” Blankfein said in the statement.
Value-at-risk, a measure of how much the firm expects it could lose in a single day of trading, dropped to an average of $95 million in the first quarter from $135 million in the fourth quarter.
Return on Equity
Return on equity, a gauge of how well Goldman Sachs reinvests shareholders’ earnings, was 12.2 percent. That compares with 14.5% in the first quarter of 2011, excluding the dividend to Berkshire.
Operating expenses decreased to $6.77 billion from $7.85 billion a year earlier. Compensation, the biggest expense, declined 16% to $4.38 billion from $5.23 billion. The firm employed 32,400 people at the end of March, down from 35,400 people a year earlier.
Institutional securities, the sales and trading division led since January by Isabelle Ealet, Pablo J. Salame, and Harvey M. Schwartz, generated $5.17 billion in revenue during the first quarter. That’s down 14% from $6.65 billion a year earlier and up from $3.06 billion in the fourth quarter.
Within that division, fixed-income, currency and commodities trading revenue of $3.46 billion compared with $4.33 billion a year earlier and $1.36 billion in the fourth quarter. Equities revenue of $2.25 billion was down from $2.32 billion a year earlier and up from $1.69 billion in the prior quarter.
Investing and lending, the segment that includes money made or lost on Goldman Sachs’s investments in companies, securities and real estate, generated $1.91 billion of gains in the quarter. That compares with $2.71 billion of gains a year earlier and $872 million in the fourth quarter.
Within that segment was $169 million on the company’s stake in Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., the nation’s largest lender. That holding made $316 million a year earlier and $388 million in the fourth quarter.
The investment-banking division, led since May by Richard J. Gnodde, David M. Solomon and John S. Weinberg, made $1.15 billion of revenue in the quarter, down from $1.27 billion a year earlier and compared with $857 million in the fourth quarter.
Estimates from five analysts surveyed by Bloomberg ranged from $786 million to $993 million.
Within that business, fees from takeovers and other financial-advisory assignments rose 37% to $489 million from $357 million a year earlier and compared with $470 million in the fourth quarter. Last week the company said that Yoel Zaoui, who had been the London-based co-head of global mergers and acquisitions with Gene T. Sykes for less than a year, is leaving after a 24-year career at the bank.
Equity underwriting revenue decreased 40% to $255 million from $426 million a year earlier and was up from $191 million in the fourth quarter. Debt underwriting fees fell 16% to $410 million from $486 million a year earlier and were higher than the $196 million generated in the fourth quarter.
Goldman Sachs ranks fourth among advisers on takeovers announced globally so far this year after winning the top spot for 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The bank has slipped to third place in equity, equity-linked and rights offerings globally, after securing the No. 1 spot last year, data compiled by Bloomberg show. In global corporate bond underwriting, Goldman Sachs ranks seventh this year, the data show.
Revenue from investment management, the division led since the start of this year by Eric S. Lane and Timothy O’Neill, dropped 8% to $1.18 billion from $1.27 billion a year earlier and compared with $1.26 billion in the fourth quarter. Assets under management fell to $824 billion from $828 billion at the end of 2011.