Bank of America, Goldman Keep Wall Street on a Roll

July 18, 2017, 12:41 PM UTC

Bank of America (BAC) and Goldman Sachs (GS) became the latest banks to report better-than-expected profits for the second quarter, despite mixed fortunes in their underlying businesses.

Both reported a weak three months for trading, with Goldman saying revenue fell 17% from a year earlier and BoA saying its sales and trading revenue fell 9%.

However, BoA in particular was lifted by consumer banking, its largest unit. As with JP Morgan Chase (JPM) on Friday, its revenue rose sharply as it was able to pass on to customers two interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve. Its net interest income rose 8.6 percent to $10.99 billion in the second quarter, while total revenue of $23.07 billion handily beat a consensus forecast of $21.78 billion.

Read: JPMorgan Just Had Its Best-Ever Quarter, Thanks to Higher Interest Rates

“Against modest economic growth of 2 percent, we had one of the strongest quarters in our history,” said Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan said.

Net income rose 11 percent to $4.91 billion. Earnings per share came in at 46 cents, topping the estimate of 43 cents.


Goldman Sachs, by comparison, had a tougher time of it. Its greater focus on market activities was reflected in a 40% drop in its key bond trading division, a figure that also reflects the extraordinary surge in trading at the end of the second quarter last year following Donald Trump’s clinching of the Republican nomination and, even more importantly, the U.K.’s vote to leave the EU on June 23, 2016.

Read: Bank of America Is Laying Off Operations and Tech Employees, Mostly at Its Headquarters

Despite that, Goldman still managed to squeeze out more in terms of earnings per share than a year ago, to $3.95, well above analysts’ forecasts of $3.39. That was due in part to a 6% fall in shares outstanding. It was also helped by a rise in its asset and wealth management division, a business that Wall Street giants are looking to more and more as a more constant and reliable income stream than trading. Revenues at that division rose 13 percent to $1.53 billion.

However, the self-styled smartest guys in the room still only managed a return on equity of 8.7 percent, well below its estimated cost of capital at around 10%.

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