Morgan Stanley’s profit drops on Wall Street slowdown

Third-quarter profits at Morgan Stanley (MS) dropped 9% from a year ago as revenue from investment banking and trading fell, another sign that Wall Street is still struggling to recover from a prolonged slump.

Its performance placed it near the bottom of the big banks. Its drop in profits was smaller than the 33% decline at rival Goldman Sachs (GS), but trailed increases at JPMorgan (JPM), Bank of America (BAC), Wells Fargo (WFC) and Citigroup (C).

Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Its investment banking revenues fell 27% from a year ago, placing it last among the big banks with sizable Wall Street operations.

Investment banking fees at Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Citigroup all rose from a year ago. At JPMorgan, these fees fell by a much lesser degree — 2.6% — for the same period.

Morgan Stanley’s revenue from trading stocks and bonds was also down, by 4%. One bright spot was that its wealth and investment management units both posted higher year-over-year profits.

“While the market environment remained mixed this quarter, the firm delivered solid results,” said CEO James Gorman, who in May announced plans to step down as leader “at some point in the next 12 months.”

Morgan Stanley’s stock fell 3.5% in early trading before the market open on Wednesday.

Year to date its stock has dropped by 5.5%, outperforming all its peers except JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo.

In the last three months, however, it has fallen 7%, a steeper decline than all its big-bank peers except for Citigroup.

Gorman told analysts that the firm is “seeing increasing evidence of M&A and underwriting calendars that are building.” While he expects “momentum to continue this year,” Morgan Stanley expects most of the activity to materialize in 2024.”

The firm’s CFO Sharon Yeshaya added in a call with analysts that “despite the weaker quarterly results, we continue to see broad sector diversification of our completed deals, and the backlog reflects a similar pattern.”

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