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Will Goldman (GS) Disappoint Q1 Earnings on Trading Slump?

The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. GS is scheduled to report first-quarter 2016 results, before the opening bell on Apr 19.

Last quarter, Goldman recorded a positive earnings surprise of 24% and a 6.8% year-over-year increase. Results reflected higher investment banking revenues, aided by an increase in client activity levels. However, effective cost control measures were overshadowed by higher legal expenses.

Recently, Goldman acknowledged several facts regarding how the Wall Street giant made “false and misleading representations” to potential investors about the quality of loans it securitized and also the manner in which it safeguarded the investors in its residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS). The acceptance formed a part of the previously disclosed $5.1 billion settlement which was finalized this week. The settlement announced in January this year impacted fourth-quarter 2015 earnings by about $1.54 billion after tax.

Yet, Goldman has recorded an average positive surprise of 22.03% for the trailing four quarters. Thus, the company’s ability to tide over the tough industry situation is in question and the chances of succumbing to the trading slump are high.

Factors to Influence Q1 Results

Overall, the banking industry has experienced a number of headwinds during the first quarter including heightened market volatility, decline in commodity prices, weak emerging markets, restricted business and consumer spending, rate hike uncertainty and falling energy prices.

Concerns over macroeconomic issues have made the market lose investors. Revenues will likely be hit by a slump in trading revenues as ambiguity over several global and domestic issues kept investors on tenterhooks. Though trading activities picked up slightly in March, it failed to offset the declines recorded in the first two months of the quarter.

Per data compiled by Thomson Reuters, firms across the world raised $12.4 billion through IPOs during the quarter which was down 69% year over year. Notably, proceeds from US IPO listings decreased 92% year over year. Further, the data projected equity underwriting fees for the industry as a whole in the first quarter to be nearly 54% lower than that of the prior-year quarter.

Notably, with Goldman holding the fifth spot among the U.S. investment banks during the quarter and year-over-year market share declining 1.4%, equity underwriting revenues are bound to decline.

On the investment banking front, according to Thomson Reuters data, global investment banking fees declined 29% year over year, with the U.S. recording a 32% decline due to reduced M&A activities. Moreover, the equities division expects a slowdown due to cautious steps taken by investors amid uncertainties surrounding global economies and the timing of the next domestic interest rate hike.  

Despite the rise in loan demand, the top line will continue to remain under pressure due to the impact of the still low rate environment on net interest income.

For Goldman, disciplined compensation levels and focus on non-compensation expenses have contributed pre-tax margin expansion of 440 basis points since 2012. Therefore, continuation of expense management is expected in the quarter.

Notably, this banking giant failed to impress analysts with its level of activities during the quarter. Amid the industry-wide weakness, which is anticipated to affect the company's financials, several analysts significantly lowered their earnings estimates. The Zacks Consensus Estimate fell around 5.5% to $2.57 per share over the last 7 days.

Earnings Whispers

Our proven model does not conclusively show that Goldman is likely to beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate in the first quarter. This is because a stock needs to have both a positive">Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or at least 2 (Buy) or 3 (Hold) for this to happen. Unfortunately, this is not the case here as elaborated below.

Zacks ESP:  The Earnings ESP for Goldman is 0.00%. This is because both the Most Accurate estimate and the Zacks Consensus Estimate stand at $2.57.

Zacks Rank: Goldman carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). Note that we caution against stocks with a Zacks Rank #4 or 5 (Sell-rated) going into the earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing negative estimate revisions.

Stocks That Warrant a Look

Fidelity Southern Corporation LION has an earnings ESP of +2.86% and a Zacks Rank #2. It is scheduled to report first-quarter results on Apr 21.

The earnings ESP for PrivateBancorp, Inc. PVTB is +1.75% and it carries a Zacks Rank #3. The company is expected to release first-quarter results on Apr 21.

Simmons First National Corporation SFNC has an earnings ESP of +1.30% and carries a Zacks Rank #3. It is scheduled to report first-quarter results on Apr 21.

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PRIVATEBANCORP (PVTB): Free Stock Analysis Report
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GOLDMAN SACHS (GS): Free Stock Analysis Report
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