Just when Goldman Sachs was supposed to be kicking up its feet and relishing its recaptured position on top of the world, the unthinkable happened: it whiffed its Q1 earnings estimates. But as terrible as it must feel for Lloyd Blankfein and newly promoted CFO Marty Chavez, it's doubly thrilling for Brian Moynihan over at Bank of America, whose big beat Tuesday gave BriMo something he's been secretly coveting for years: a reason to gloat over Lloyd.
Our approach to responsible growth delivered strong results again this quarter. Revenue was up 7 percent and EPS grew 46 percent. We saw good client activity in our balanced portfolio of businesses: consumer spending was up, our wealth management business had strong asset management flows, investment banking fees rebounded nicely, and we continued to provide credit and capital to our corporate and institutional clients to help them drive the economy forward. The U.S. economy continues to show consumer and business optimism, and our results reflect that.
The operating environment was mixed, with client activity challenged in certain market-making businesses and a more attractive backdrop for underwriting in our investment banking franchise. As the economy improves, we are well positioned to not only meet our clients’ diverse needs, but also to generate operating leverage for our shareholders.
Chavez also had a downbeat tone, on his first big earnings call no less. One analyst even apologized for asking another question about Goldman's FICC results, which were flat from the atrocious first quarter of 2016. Chavez blamed currencies and commodities in particular: “Ultimately we didn't manage the market well.”
BofA's FICC revenues, meanwhile, surged 29 percent. Score one for BriMo.
Now we shouldn't read too much into this. The relatively calm first quarter, with its low volatility and raised interest rates, naturally benefited the behemoth Bank of America with fatter net interest margins and smooth credit markets. For Goldman it was just a bore.
But let's give Moynihan his moment. He didn't ask to be CEO of Bank of America. The burden was thrust upon him, evidently as punishment for sins he committed in this life or the last. Now, before the shadow of 200 West eclipses him once again – and his own existential conflict comes to a head – allow BriMo a brief spell in the sun.