Friday, October 16, 2009


We'll start with the lousy earnings news and work our way up:
  • Bank of America posted a net loss of $1 billion or 26 cents a share, compared with a profit of $1.18 billion a year ago. The loss was mostly due to $2.6 billion in write-downs from an improvement in credit spreads and a $402 million charge from a payment to the US government to get out of an asset-guarantee deal tied to the incredibly stupid and expensive purchase of Merrill Lynch. To add insult to injury, CEO Ken Lewis, who is stepping down at the end of the year, will receive no comp for this year and will be asked to refund the $1 million in salary he has collected for the year. This should be fairly easy to do as he is slated to receive around $69 million or so in retirement benefits.
  • GE, the finance firm that likes to pretend it is an industrial conglomerate, posted a third-quarter profit of $2.49 billion, or 23 cents a share, down from $4.31 billion or 43 cents a share. GE Capital's profits dropped by 87%, and will likely weigh on GE's earnings for some time, regardless of any improvements in the industrial part of the business. This is because GE Capital doesn't have to mark-to-market so its assets will just bleed to death rather than take large hits. But luckily, the company had the pleasure of issuing government guaranteed debt through the crisis to stave off a liquidity problem. The industrial side of the company seems to be doing well with an increase of 3% in its backlog of orders for big-ticket equipment, maintenance and other services.
  • IBM posted fairly decent numbers, although the market seemed not to like them enough to sustain the recent rally in the stock. Profits were up 14% on an increase in margins on a 6.9% decline in revenue. IBM also raised its full year guidance for next next year to at least $9.85 a share from its previous forecast of $9.70.
  • Google continues to impress. The highly profitable tech outfit actually had an increase in revenues of 7% from the year earlier quarter to $5.94 billion. Revenues were up 8% sequentially as well. Profits grew even faster as net income rose 27% to $1.64 billion. Google's stock is the only one up this morning after its earnings results.

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