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Investment gains push Goldman profits up two-fold

A trader in the Goldman Sachs booth on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, April 16, 2010
Photo Credit: 
AFP

US investment bank Goldman Sachs Tuesday reported earnings that doubled last year's level due to a big jump in revenues from its own investments and lending.

Net income came in at $1.9 billion on revenues of $8.6 billion for the second quarter, more than twice the year-ago profit of $927 million on revenues of $6.6 billion.

Goldman's per share earnings were $3.70, well above the $2.82 forecast by analysts.

Goldman reported giant growth in its investing and lending segment, primarily investments in private equities and debt.

Net revenues in this area grew from $203 million in the year-ago quarter to $1.4 billion. it also included Goldman's divestment of its remaining shares in the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China during the quarter.

After opening higher, Goldman shares tumbled into negative territory. Around midday, the shares were down 1.7 percent. at $160.27.

Some analysts were less than impressed with quality of earning, seeing gains mainly from investments as unpredictable and not necessarily indicative of the bank's fundamental business.

"It's a relatively low-quality beat," analysts at Citi said of Goldman's having surpassed forecasts.

Also, Goldman's tax rate for the quarter came in at 27 percent, well below expectations.

Barclays, which had projected a tax rate of 33 percent, estimated that 85 percent of the earnings beat came from the lower tax rate.

Goldman scored large gains in its investment banking division. Net revenues from equity and debt underwriting grew 45.2 percent to $1.1 billion.

Goldman said its fixed income, currency and commodities business for clients operated in a "generally favorable environment" in the first half of the quarter, but encountered a "more challenging" time later in the quarter due to greater interest rate and market volatility.

Revenues in this segment grew 12 percent to $2.5 billion.

Goldman chief executive Lloyd Blankfein cited "improving economic conditions in the US" as a driver of better results.

Chief financial officer Harvey Schwartz told analysts that Goldman clients believe global markets are shifting into a period of "normalcy" after a long stretch of exceptionally low interest rates.

"For a very long period of time, there was the expectation that this very low interest rate environment would persist," Schwartz said on a conference call. "It does feel like people have recalibrated a bit."

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