The absurdity of Wall Street analysts, volume MCMXV

April 14, 2011, 10:27 PM UTC

Not sure what to make of Sen. Carl Levin’s latest whack at Goldman Sachs?

He issued a report Wednesday that says Goldman (GS) manipulated markets, ripped off its clients and then tried to cover up its tracks. Not everyone finds that sort of alleged behavior attractive, apparently. Levin even said in a press conference that he thinks Goldman execs may have lied to Congress, a charge the firm strongly denies.

These are serious claims, in any case — which is why it’s fortunate we have the guys at S&P Equity Research to help us sort it all out.

Here is how the firm, which rates the stock buy and expects it to rise $20 from a recent $156 and change, views the case made in Wednesday’s report from Levin, D-Mich., and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.

We see this as a potential negative for GS, but we think these allegations are in a preliminary stage. GS has denied wrongdoing, and we expect GS to report robust global banking fees and strong trading revenues given reported peer brokerage Q1 results.

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“Potential negative”? That seems like an understatement — but not enough, thank goodness, to rise to the level of offsetting “robust global banking fees” and “strong trading revenues.” 

It looks like S&P doesn’t expect anything to come of the investigations Levin is rattling his saber about, but they don’t say for sure. Such is the lot of the fence-straddling Wall Street analyst.

In any case we will eagerly await S&P’s take when things get less preliminary.

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