Not all banks splurged in the fourth quarter of 2021. Morgan Stanley reported its operating results and beat expectations for quarterly earnings
The results were made possible by an outstanding M&A season, which resulted in high transaction advisory fees for the bank.
The bank's asset management division also posted strong results in the fourth quarter, with revenue up more than 10% to $6.25 billion.
Morgan Stanley's results rounded out a mixed earnings season for the nation's largest banks. On the one hand, a boom in mergers and acquisitions helped attract large loans and investments. On the other hand, the year was marked by weak trading and higher costs to retain key employees in the race for talent.
Bank officials believe deal activity will remain solid despite the prospect of higher debt costs, while Main Street lenders are expected to get a healthier return on consumer lending as interest rates are likely to rise later in 2022.
However, merger season is likely to stall with the first rate hike as only deals that were scheduled earlier will take place. Besides, it will subside by the end of the year.
As for consumer lending, demand will certainly rise. However, the default rate on loans will also grow, if inflation remains high, as overall wages always lag behind inflation, and consumers have less money in terms of gold.
Besides, the results of one of the world's largest investment banks are impressive, especially amidst the background that the conglomerate ceded leadership on deals to Goldman Sachs. According to data from Dealogic, Morgan Stanley, which advised on 420 deals last year, ranked third in the global investment banking rankings, lagging behind major rivals Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase.
League tables rank financial services firms based on the amount of investment banking advisory fees they generate.
Investment banking services revenue rose by 6 % to $2.43 billion due to speculative demand. The division includes bank advisory services, equity underwriting and fixed income underwriting.
While equity underwriting revenue declined compared to the last year, Morgan Stanley still advised some of the largest initial public offerings, including Amazon-backed electric car maker Rivian Automotive Inc, earning $53 million during the quarter.
In 2021, the Wall Street investment banking giants took advantage of a wave of deal-making and advised on several major business combinations and helped put together deals involving special purpose acquisition companies.
In the quarter ended Dec.31, profit rose to $3.59 billion, or $2.01 per share from $3.27 billion, or $1.81 per share, a year earlier.
Despite the bump in trading, Morgan Stanley's earnings beat expectations.
According to IBES data from Refinitiv, analysts on average expected the bank to report earnings of $1.91 per share.
Revenue for the quarter rose to $14.52 billion compared with $13.59 billion in the year-ago period.
Currently, the US session on January 19 is expected to be softer for the major US indices.
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