NEW YORK — Goldman Sachs Group Inc. may be facing complications from the political and legal storm over its business practices, but first-quarter results showed an unsuprising big jump in profit.
Goldman, which is mired in controversy after the government filed civil-fraud charges that rocked the bank and Wall Street, reported Tuesday that profit soared 91% to $3.46 billion during the first three months of the year. The results, driven by strong trading and bond underwriting, helped deliver a much-needed boost following the controversy swirling around the firm since last week.
Shares of the company jumped 2% to $166.08 in premarket trading. After the Securities and Exchange Commission filed its complaint against Goldman, the stock plunged nearly 13%, closing at $160.70.
Lloyd C. Blankfein, Goldman's chairman and chief executive, alluded to the federal charges only once in its earnings release. "In light of recent events involving the firm, we appreciate the support of our clients and shareholders, and the dedication and commitment of our people," he said in a statement.
Indeed, Goldman's staff was paid well for its support. Compensation rose 17% to $5.5 billion from $4.7 billion during the year-ago period, making Goldman employees among the most highly paid on the Street. However, compensation declined as a percentage of the company's net revenue, to 43% from 50%.
Goldman reported a profit of $3.46 billion, or $5.59 a share, up from $1.81 billion, or $3.39 a share, a year earlier. Revenue jumped 36% to $12.78 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had most recently forecast earnings of $4.01 on $11.07 billion in revenue.
Goldman has posted impressive results recently as it pulled ahead of rivals that had struggled to overcome the credit crisis. But a cloud has developed in the past few days as the SEC accused the company and one of its executives of defrauding investors by peddling a financial product it knew was doomed to fail as the housing market collapsed. Goldman maintains it has done nothing wrong and is fighting the charges.
The company's total trading and principal investments, which make up most of its revenue, rose 43% to $10.25 billion. Fixed income, currency and commodities revenue, which is part of total trading and principal investments, rose 13%.
Investment-banking revenue increased 44%, though it dropped 28% sequentially.
Though results were strong, analysts during a conference call, which lasted more than an hour, fired off most of their questions about the legal entanglements facing the company. Goldman's co-general counsel, Greg Palm, said during a conference call that the investment bank would not intentionally mislead clients, and would "be the first" to condemn any employees that went against that credo.
Palm said "our responsibilities as a financial intermediary require it, and our commitment to integrity and the firm's business principles demand it." He added that the case is heading toward a trial at this point, but that there is certainly the possibility that Goldman could settle if both sides come into agreement.
In the SEC complaint, Goldman executive Fabrice Tourre was accused of defrauding investors by peddling a financial product the firm knew was doomed to fail as the housing market collapsed. Goldman maintains it has done nothing wrong and is fighting the charges. Tourre is currently out on indefinite leave, but has not been suspended by Goldman.
Palm also said that Goldman lost upwards of $100 million on the transaction being investigated by the government, up from the firm's previous estimation of about $90 million.
"We don't know how this case is going to unfold at this point, its very early on," he said.