Merrill Lynch: $9.7 Billion Write-Down, Fourth Straight Quarterly Loss

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Merrill Lynch managed to beat all expectations when it comes to the size of it's write downs. Wachovia's analysts estimated $5 billion, Charlie Gasparino had put the number at $6 billion, we had predicted a bit higher.
As it turns out, things are far worse than expected. Merrill posted a $4.9 billion second-quarter loss, it's fourth straight quarterly loss. (This prompted the joke around DealBreaker HQ that four quarters equals a hole.) It is selling nearly $8 billion of assets in a scramble to raise capital. Write downs for the quarter amounted to $9.7 billion.
Many investors had bet that Merrill would show much better numbers, perhaps demonstrating that the brokerages were making a comeback. This bullish speculation, in part built off of good news coming out of Wells Fargo and JP Morgan, pushed Merrill's share price up nearly 40% from where it traded just a few days ago.
Update: Moody's downgrades Merrill's debt from A1 to A2.

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