If you're wondering what to make of Morgan Stanley's quarter, why not just ask Goldman?
Morgan Stanley & Co. (MS): First Take: A very well rounded beat
...reads the title of Goldman's post-mortem for their rival's Q1 results, which included revenue that crossed the $11 billion threshold.
With JPMorgan, Citi, Goldman, and now Morgan results all in the books, it's clear that when it comes to volatility, they'd all be fine with "more cowbell". Equities trading was a boon for pretty much everyone in Q1 and unsurprisingly, given its dominance in the space, Morgan was no exception, posting sales & trading revenue of $2.6b - that was well ahead of consensus ($2.15b) and comprised 58% of trading revenue compared to ~31% for peers.
But the surprise for Morgan was FICC, where revenue came in at $1.9b, again well ahead of estimates ($1.7b). They're citing "higher results in FX and commodities, partially offset by lower results in credit products and rates," but regardless, that beat is notable.
Also notable were the investment banking results. Revenue there was $1.5b, that was ahead of estimates and according to Reuters and Bloomberg, Morgan is #1 this year on M&A. Recall that on Tuesday, Goldman reported a 22% slide in Financial Advisory revenues, citing "a decrease in industry-wide completed mergers and acquisitions transactions."
Oh, and wealth management did fine too, with revenue there coming in at $4.37 billion. Pre-tax profit in WM was $1.2 billion (that's a record) and the pre-tax margin was 26.5%, considerably ahead of some estimates, up 250bps y/y, and inside of guidance (26-28%).
Really, this just looks like an across-the-board beat and irrespective of whether it's "sustainable" (something a few folks are questioning on Wednesday morning), the market is going to have a harder time fading this.
One thing I would note is that if this isn't good enough, then I don't know what the fuck is.