October 16, 2018 / 11:15 AM / a month ago

Morgan Stanley profit beats on strength in equity trading, underwriting

(Reuters) - Morgan Stanley (MS.N) reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Tuesday, driven by higher revenue in its stock trading and equity underwriting businesses.

A sign is displayed on the Morgan Stanley building in New York U.S., July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Equity trading revenue rose 7 percent in a quarter marked by uncertainties in global financial markets stemming from an ongoing tariff war between the United States and China.

Morgan Stanley’s bond trading revenue rose 1 percent, outperforming traditional competitor Goldman Sachs Group Inc, (GS.N) which reported a 10 percent fall in revenue at the business.

Bond trading at Wall Street’s top bank - JPMorgan (JPM.N) - declined 10 percent in the third-quarter.

Morgan Stanley’s overall revenue rose a better-than-expected 7.3 percent, also helped by a 62 percent jump in equity underwriting revenue.

Chief Executive Officer James Gorman has restored Morgan Stanley to health since taking over in 2010, when the bank was still reeling from the financial crisis.

His tenure has been defined by reducing risk, exiting problematic businesses and focusing on steadier ones that can generate reliable revenue.

However, some analysts now question the bank’s future growth strategy. Its shares have fallen 17 percent this year, underperforming the S&P Financial index .SPSY, with lackluster trading also weighing on the stock. The shares were up 2.4 percent before the opening bell.

The bank’s sales and trading revenue, its biggest contributor to total revenue, rose 7.5 percent and came in better than that of JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) and Citigroup Inc (C.N).

Net income attributable to Morgan Stanley rose to $2.11 billion, or $1.17 per share, in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, from $1.78 billion, or 93 cents per share, a year ago.

Analysts were expecting $1.01 per share, according to I/B/E/S data from Refinitiv.

Reporting by Sweta Singh in Bengaluru and Matt Scuffham in Toronto; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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