Banks

Morgan Stanley shares surge after bank beats expectations on trading, advisory results

Key Points
  • The bank says profit rose 2.3% to $2.17 billion in the quarter, or $1.27 per share, compared with the $1.11 per share estimate of analysts surveyed by Refinitiv.
  • The company produced $10.1 billion in revenue, a surprise increase amid a difficult quarter for other Wall Street firms, exceeding analysts' average estimate by roughly $500 million. Morgan Stanley called it the best third quarter for revenue in a decade.
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Morgan Stanley beats on top and bottom lines

Morgan Stanley on Thursday posted third-quarter profit and revenue that exceeded analysts' expectations on better-than-anticipated results in trading and advisory businesses.

The bank said profit rose 2.3% to $2.17 billion in the quarter, or $1.27 per share, compared with the $1.11 per share expected in a Refinitiv survey of analysts. The company produced $10.1 billion in revenue, a surprise increase amid a difficult quarter for other Wall Street firms, exceeding analysts' average estimate by roughly $500 million. Morgan Stanley called it the best third quarter for revenue in a decade.

Shares surged 3.7% in premarket trading.

Chief Executive Officer James Gorman has helped to diversify Morgan Stanley away from trading and advisory businesses with his emphasis on wealth management, but the bank still has sizable Wall Street operations. That fact made analysts' wary on the firm's results in the quarter, as mixed conditions on Wall Street impacted rivals including Goldman Sachs.

But Morgan Stanley's bond-trading desks in particular exceeded expectations, posting $1.43 billion in third-quarter revenue, a 21% increase and $320 million more than analysts had estimated. The unit, which has historically been an underperformer, cited strong activity in credit and government bonds in the quarter. Equities revenue fell 1% to $1.99 billion, just under the estimate.

Investment bankers also contributed to the results: They posted $1.54 billion in revenue, a 5% increase from a year earlier and $120 million more than analysts had expected. That result looks more favorable after Goldman's investment bankers posted a 15% decline in fees for the quarter.

Wealth management produced $4.36 billion in revenue, just under the $4.39 billion estimate of analysts surveyed by FactSet. The division had higher asset management revenues on rising portfolios, while net interest income fell 3% on higher funding costs.

"We delivered strong quarterly earnings despite the typical summer slowdown and volatile markets," Gorman said in the release. "Our consistent performance shows the stability of our business model. We remain committed to controlling our expenses and are well positioned to pursue our growth initiatives."

Morgan Stanley shares have climbed 8.1% this year before Thursday, compared with the 17% gain of the KBW Bank Index.

Morgan Stanley is the last of the big six banks to report earnings. Lenders with large retail operations generally outperformed in the quarter, led by J.P. Morgan Chase and Bank of America. Goldman Sachs missed on profit as investment banking revenue fell, and the firm took writedowns on Uber and WeWork stakes.

Here's what Wall Street expected:

  • Earnings: $1.11 a share, 5% lower than a year earlier, according to Refinitiv.
  • Revenue: $9.6 billion, 2.8% lower than a year earlier
  • Wealth management: $4.39 billion, according to FactSet
  • Trading: Equities $2.1 billion, Fixed Income $1.11 billion

Correction: This article has been updated to show Morgan Stanley earned $1.27 a share for the third quarter.

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Key Points
  • The bank says net income rose 4% to $7.5 billion, or an adjusted 75 cents a share, excluding an impairment charge. When including the $2.1 billion charge, net income fell to 56 cents a share, exceeding the 51 cent estimate of analysts surveyed by Refinitiv.
  • Three of the bank's four main divisions report gains in revenue, led by its global banking business, which posts an 8% increase to $5.2 billion on higher investment banking fees.
  • Shares of the bank rose 3.3%.