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Tuesday, July 20,2010

Goldman Sachs sees profit sink more than 80 percent

By McClatchy-Tribune News Service

NEW YORK — Hit by a big government fine and difficult trading conditions, leading Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has reported a sharply lower profit.

The bank announced Tuesday that profit in the second quarter of the year was down 86 percent from the first quarter of 2010 and 84 percent from the second quarter of 2009 to $613 million, or 0.78 cents a share.

The announcement by the company comes just days after it settled a lawsuit with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which had accused the bank of misrepresenting a deal it made during the financial crisis. The bank did not admit to criminal wrongdoing, but it did agree to pay $550 million, all of which was taken out of earnings for the second quarter.

In another one-time hit to the bottom line, Goldman paid $600 million for a tax that Britain had imposed on bonuses for bank executives there.

Even excluding the payments for the fine and the bank tax, Goldman's earnings fell below analysts' expectations.

The biggest declines came in revenues from the company's trading desks, which have been the engine of growth at all Wall Street banks over the past year. During the past three months, stock and bond prices have been volatile, and other banks that have already released results for the second quarter have shown sharp declines in profit.

Goldman's revenue from stock trading dropped 84 percent from last quarter while revenue from bond and fixed-income trading fell 40 percent.

"The market environment became more difficult during the second quarter, and, as a result, client activity across our businesses declined," the bank's chief executive, Lloyd Blankfein, said in a release.

Many analysts have wondered whether Goldman's legal troubles would hurt the bank with clients. Goldman reported that its earnings from financial advisory work were actually up from last quarter and a year ago, though its revenue from underwriting stock and bond offerings for clients was down significantly.

Goldman has come under fire in the past for the massive sums of cash it has set aside for employee bonuses and pay. This quarter, the bank dedicated $3.8 billion, or 43 percent of the total revenues, for its employees — the same proportion of revenue provided for bonuses during the first three months of the year.

The past three months have been widely described as some of the most difficult in the bank's long history, but the ability to settle the lawsuit has given the company's prospects a positive jolt. The bank itself does not appear to be scaling back its ambitions, having hired 1000 new employees during the second quarter.


(c) 2010, Los Angeles Times.

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Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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