Goldman Sachs profit misses estimates on higher costs, weak M&A

(Reuters) – Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) on Wednesday reported quarterly profit that missed analysts’ estimates by a wide margin, hurt by weakness in its investment banking business and higher operating costs. The bank’s net earnings applicable to common shareholders fell to $1.72 billion in the quarter ended Dec. 31 from $2.32 billion a year earlier. Earnings per share fell to $4.69 from $6.04. Analysts on average had expected earnings of $5.47 per share, according to the IBES estimate from Refinitiv. Revenue from investment banking fell 6% to $2.06 billion, hurt by lower M&A advisory fees, as well as a slowdown in corporate lending. Total net revenue, however, jumped 23% to $9.96 billion as three of its four main reporting lines performed strongly. Earlier in January, Goldman reshuffled most of its major reporting lines and, for the first time, unveiled the size of its consumer business, responding to long-standing requests for more transparency from analysts and investors. Operating expenses jumped 42% to $7.3 billion. Provision for credit losses rose 51% to $336 million in the fourth quarter, while the bank recorded net provisions of $1.24 billion for 2019, mainly due to legal costs related to the 1MDB litigation. Under Chief Executive Officer David Solomon, Goldman has undertaken a major shift in strategy from its focus on trading to building a bigger consumer business in a bid to shield its revenue from wild swings in financial markets. Last week, Goldman unveiled the size of its consumer business for the first time. The unit, which includes the online retail bank, Marcus, and its credit card business, reported a 23% jump in revenue to $228 million during the fourth quarter. Rivals JP Morgan Chase & Co, Citigroup and Bank of America boast of much larger consumer businesses.

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