Morgan Stanley misses Wall Street Q4 forecast as firm meets setbacks

By Ken Sweet, AP

NEW YORK — Morgan Stanley’s fourth-quarter profit rose as the investment bank recovered from huge legal expenses last year. But it suffered from the same trading slowdowns at other banks and fell short of Wall Street expectations.

The bank said Tuesday it earned US$1.05 billion, or 47 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with US$95 million, or 2 cents a share, a year earlier.

Revenue totaled US$7.76 billion, down from US$7.84 billion in the same period a year earlier.

Like the other big Wall Street firms, Morgan Stanley had difficulties in its fixed income and commodities division. The bank reported adjusted net revenues of US$599 million, down from US$694 million a year earlier.

Revenue from equity sales and trading, a key part of Morgan Stanley’s business, increased modestly to US$1.6 billion from US$1.5 billion.

Wealth Management, which includes Morgan Stanley’s Smith Barney franchise, reported a modest rise in profits as well. The division earned US$736 million versus US$715 million in the same period a year ago.

Results were affected by several one-time items and accounting adjustments. Adjusted for one-time items, the bank earned 39 cents a share, well short of the 56 cents that analysts expected, according to a poll by FactSet.

For 2014, Morgan Stanley earned US$6.15 billion compared with US$2.98 billion in 2013. Firm-wide sales and revenue reached US$34.28 billion, up from US$32.49 billion the prior year.

Morgan Stanley fell 61 cents, or 2 percent, to US$34.28 in late morning trading.