Goldman Sachs just had a historically bad quarter in trading

  • Goldman Sachs just released results from its fourth quarter, beating analyst expectations with adjusted earnings of $US5.68 per share.
  • However, the fixed-income business struggled again, with revenues of just $US1 billion – down by half from the same period a year before, and down 31% quarter-on-quarter.
  • It’s a historically bad quarter for the fixed-income business, which has been a focus for investors and management.

Goldman Sachs’ fixed-income business just racked up a record it didn’t want.

The unit posted quarterly revenues of $US1 billion in the final three months of 2017, the lowest quarterly revenue line for that business since Goldman Sachs started breaking out fixed income, currencies, and commodities client execution revenues in 2010. That $US1 billion figure also represented a 50% decline from a year ago, and a 31% drop from the previous quarter.

In its earnings release, the bank said that both the equities and fixed income units “continued to operate in a challenging environment characterised by low levels of volatility and low client activity” in the fourth quarter.

Here’s a breakdown of recent quarterly revenue numbers for fixed income:

Goldman FICC revenueBusiness Insider/Andy Kiersz, data from Goldman Sachs

It’s a cause for concern for investors and management.

The US investment bank in September set out a strategy to generate an additional $US1 billion or more in fixed income, currencies, and commodities revenues.

“We are not satisfied with our recent performance in FICC,” Harvey Schwartz, president and co-chief operating officer, said at the time. “We are intensely focused on it. We know you are, as well.”

And on an earnings call to discuss the results, several of the early questions from analysts focused on this business, with Glenn Schorr at Evercore ISI asking why the debt business was performing so well when the fixed-income trading business was having such a tough time. Another question focused on whether the bank needed to consider changes to its businesses, while another focused on the commodities business, which has had a terrible year.

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