On Friday morning, Morgan Stanley released fourth quarter earnings that sent the stock soaring 7.9%. Earnings per share came in at $0.45 versus the $0.27 expected, and revenue increased by 23% to $6.97 billion.
The report and conference call were bullish from many standpoints, and encouraged option traders to step into long positions in the stock.
One of the biggest trades of the day was the purchase of 29,400 April 24 calls for $0.70 each, which was done with the stock at $22.30. This is a bullish bet that MS will be above $24.70, or 11% higher, at April expiration.
Morgan Stanley finally looks to be done cleaning house, and can now focus on running its business as normal.
CEO James Gorman has said that the dirty work is done, meaning that the layoffs are over. He is comfortable with the company as it now stands, with about 6,000 employees or 10% fewer than last year. The company's profitability in the fourth quarter is not all due to cost-cutting initiates, though – pre-tax income from the wealth management has more than doubled since 2011, and net margins are up to 17% from 7% in the third quarter. The company's institutional services division was also strong, along with fixed income and commodities; sales and trading was up year-over-year, but is down since the third quarter.