Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Morgan Stanley First-Ever Loss, Gets China Investment

(Bloomberg) -- Morgan Stanley, the second-biggest U.S. securities firm, reported a fourth-quarter loss of $3.56 billion, the first in the company's history, after $9.4 billion of writedowns on mortgage-related investments.

Chief Executive Officer John Mack is forgoing a bonus for the year and called the results ``deeply disappointing.'' Morgan Stanley received a $5 billion investment from China Investment Corp., the nation's sovereign wealth fund, the New York-based company said today in a statement. Morgan Stanley rose 38 cents to $48.45 in early New York trading.

Mack's strategy of expanding in home loans and making bigger trading bets backfired as the firm's losses from securities linked to home loans more than doubled in November. He ousted Co-President Zoe Cruz, who had overseen the fixed- income unit responsible for the mortgage holdings, last month and promoted James Gorman and Walid Chammah, who previously ran wealth management and the firm's European operations.

``Conditions have deteriorated,'' said William Fitzpatrick, who helps oversee $1.7 billion, including Morgan Stanley shares, as a financial-services analyst at Optique Capital Management in Racine, Wisconsin. ``It's going to get worse before it gets better.''

The loss of $3.61 a share in the three months ended Nov. 30 compares with net income of $1.98 billion, or $1.87, a year earlier. Analysts were estimating a loss of 39 cents, according to a survey by Bloomberg. The loss was the first since the company went public in 1986.

Cash Infusions

Morgan Stanley joined competitors including Merrill Lynch & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Zurich-based UBS AG in booking losses from investments in securities, such as collateralized debt obligations, that contain subprime home loans. Citigroup and UBS also received cash infusions from outside investors to shore up capital.

China Investment will acquire as much as 9.9 percent of Morgan Stanley, making it the company's second-largest shareholder after Boston-based State Street Corp., according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The state-controlled fund is buying securities that convert into Morgan Stanley shares, and pay annual interest of 9 percent. China Investment won't get a seat on the board or play a role in management, Morgan Stanley said in the statement.

For the full year, revenue fell 6 percent to $28 billion from $29.8 billion and net income decreased 60 percent to $2.56 billion.

`Pay for Performance'

Return on equity, a measure of how effectively the firm reinvests earnings, dropped to 7.8 percent from 23.8 percent in 2006. Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which reported a record profit yesterday, said its return on equity was 32.7 percent in 2007.

``Accountability for our results rests with me,'' Mack said in the statement. ``I believe in pay for performance, so I've told our compensation committee that I will not accept a bonus for 2007.''

Mack reaped a $40 million bonus in 2006, the biggest ever paid to a Morgan Stanley CEO.

Morgan Stanley is the third of Wall Street's largest firms to post results for the fiscal quarter that ended Nov. 30. Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., the fourth-biggest by market value, reported last week that profit dropped 12 percent, the second consecutive decline, and said losses from the collapse of the subprime mortgage market will probably extend into next year.

Subprime Fallout

Goldman, the biggest U.S. securities firm, reported fourth- quarter earnings yesterday of $3.22 billion on higher revenue from investment banking, stock trading and gains from selling power plants.

Morgan Stanley said its fixed income sales and trading group recorded a net loss of $7.9 billion in the fourth quarter, after the writedowns, which included $7.8 billion for subprime- related losses. Equity sales and trading revenue climbed 72 percent to $2.5 billion and investment banking revenue rose 4 percent to almost $1.6 billion.

Revenue at the global wealth management unit, still overseen by Gorman, increased 23 percent to $1.8 billion and pretax profit advanced 124 percent to $378 million. Asset management, run by Owen Thomas, reported a 9.7 percent gain in pretax profit, to $294 million.

Morgan Stanley dropped 29 percent this year in New York Stock Exchange composite trading through yesterday, the worst annual decline since 2001.

Job Cuts

The company ranks second after Goldman among the world's biggest advisers on mergers and acquisitions announced in 2007, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The firm advised on $42.2 billion of takeovers completed during the fiscal fourth quarter, more than double a year earlier.

In equity underwriting, Morgan Stanley managed $14.1 billion of offerings during the quarter, up from $13.6 billion a year earlier, Bloomberg data show.

Morgan Stanley said in October that it was eliminating 900 jobs, mostly in the mortgage units. The firm said Nov. 7 that investments in subprime mortgages and related securities lost $3.7 billion of value in September and October.

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