Morgan Stanley earnings fall 53 pc

Morgan Stanley (MS) is the latest bank heavyweight to release their first-quarter (Q1) 2016 earnings, reporting a 53 percent fall in diluted earnings per share ($0.55) compared to the first quarter of last year ($1.18).

Net revenues dropped 21%, primarily to a sharp 43% fall in the Institutional Securities (Trading) business and an 18% fall in Investment Banking. Non-interest expense cuts of 14% were insufficient to compensate. Declines were widespread, with Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) (-36%) the worst affected.

Tier 1 Capital (CET1) improved to 14.5% (Q1 2015: 11.6%) of risk-weighted assets, while Leverage (SLR) improved to 6.0% (Q1 2015: 5.1%).

The dividend was held at 15 cents (Q1 2015: 15 cents), increasing the payout ratio to a still modest 27%, from 13% in Q1 2015.

Bob Doll’s newsletter this week says:

The uneven market uptrend in place since mid-February resumed last week, with the S&P 500 Index climbing 1.7%. The primary catalyst appeared to be better-than-expected corporate earnings results in the still-early reporting season, particularly from the banking sector. As a result, bank stocks performed particularly well, rising 7% last week, marking the best weekly gain in over four years. Investors also focused on better economic data coming from China and ongoing evidence that the U.S. economy is growing slowly.

We have had five heavyweights, JPM, BAC, WFC, C and MS all report declining earnings per share. Most had cut non-interest expenses but insufficient to compensate for falling revenues and rising provisions for credit losses. I’m afraid there isn’t much evidence of growth in the US economy and banking results reflect a tough environment. Beating earnings estimates doesn’t mean much if your earnings are falling.

MS is in a primary down-trend, having broken primary support at $30. Long-term Momentum below zero confirms. Expect a rally to test resistance and the descending trendline at $30 but respect is likely and would warn of another test of the band of primary support at $20 to $22. Breach would offer a target of the 2011 low at $12*.

Morgan Stanley (MS)

* Target calculation: 30 – ( 40 – 30 ) = 20

Goldman Sachs (GS) is due to report Tuesday.

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