Page last updated at 23:20 GMT, Monday, 13 April 2009 00:20 UK

Goldman Sachs sees strong results

Wall Street sign
Goldman could be the first major US bank to pay back government aid

Goldman Sachs has reported a $1.8bn (£1.2bn) net quarterly profit, beating analyst expectations.

In contrast, the previous quarter had seen the firm post its first quarterly loss since going public in 1999.

The bank also said it would place $5bn worth of its stock on the market, to raise funds to repay an emergency $10bn loan provided by the US government.

Some analysts say the earnings results suggest the worst could be over for finance firms.

Last week US bank Wells Fargo surprised investors by saying it expected a record net profit for the quarter.

'Competitive advantage'

Goldman Sachs' earnings per share in the three months to 27 March were $3.39, around double that forecast by analysts.

Keith Wirtz, president of Fifth Third Asset Management, said: "The simple fact that they doubled expectations is really great news. It's another sign, another brick on the wall that the financial sector has gone through the worst."

Analysts also said it showed how Goldman Sachs had managed to exploit recent volatile economic conditions, and the less crowded marketplace.

Analyst Gary Townsend, chief executive officer of Hill-Townsend Capital, added: "I think for [Goldman Sachs] the principal issue is going to be how much of the market they are seizing in the absence of competitors that have fallen by the wayside.

"What we are seeing here is the competitive advantage that Goldman has, asserting itself as others have disappeared."

Revenues for the first quarter hit $9.43bn, boosted by the strength of its fixed income and currency departments. The investment banking division meanwhile saw its revenues fall for the period.

Lloyd Blankfein, the bank's chairman and chief executive, said: "Given the difficult market conditions, we are pleased with this quarter's performance."

'Road map'

The loans that the bank is seeking to repay is part of the White House's $700bn Troubled Asset Relief Program (Tarp).

Goldman Sachs is one the firm's undergoing "stress tests" by federal authorities to determine their viability.

"If permitted by our supervisors and if supported by the results of the stress assessment, Goldman Sachs would like to use the capital raised plus additional resources to redeem all of the Tarp capital," the company said.

Mr Wirtz said: "Goldman may provide all the other companies with a road map on how to separate from the government.

"Removing the government from your back is great positive news."

The latest results are 13% higher compared to the first quarter of 2008, which ended in February.

But they are not directly comparable since the firm changed to a calendar year from a fiscal year that had ended in November.

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MSNBC Taxing Grandma to subsidize Goldman Sachs - 10 hrs ago
Reuters Beware Goldmans dutiful TARP repayment - 12 hrs ago
CNN Money Goldman sells $5 bln stock in "duty" to repay TARP - 32 hrs ago
South China Morning Post Goldman Sachs raises US$5b to repay bailout - 34 hrs ago
Guardian Unlimited UK banks buoyed by Goldman profits - 37 hrs ago

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