Goldman Sachs had a miserable first quarter — but mainly when it comes to public relations. The firm managed to beat analysts’ expectations with better-than-anticipated profit, joining a pageant of generally strong earnings reports that buoyed the stock market.
The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. earned $2.1 billion, or $3.92 a share, a 23% slump from its $2.7 billion, or $4.38 per share earnings during the same quarter a year earlier, excluding a one-time cost. But the bank’s performance was still better than analysts’ projections of less than $3.60 a share.
The company, which was publicly excoriated last month by former executive Greg Smith as having a “toxic and destructive” environment, raised its dividend for the first time in years, boosting it 31% to 46 cents a share.
Last week, the company said it would pay $22 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority to settle charges that its analysts gave confidential information to top clients.
On Tuesday, Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein said “stronger global markets” helped results, but cautioned that “client activity remains relatively low in certain areas, especially in parts of investment banking.”
Overall revenue slipped 16% to just under $10 billion, with most of Goldman’s business units — including a 20% plunge in revenue in its fixed income, commodities and currencies, or FICC, unit — reporting losses.
According to the earnings report, 44% of revenue — or nearly $4.4 billion — went to pay compensation and benefits. As part of an ongoing effort to cut costs, Goldman shrank its workforce by 3% during the quarter.
A raft of other major companies also reported earnings Tuesday, helping to push the Dow up 1.5%, or roughly 200 points, in midday trading. The Nasdaq was up about 55 points while the S&P gained more than 20 points.
The Coca-Cola Co. said its profit was up 8% in its first quarter compared with a year earlier to $2 billion while revenue jumped 6% to $11.1 billion as beverage sales rose around the world.
Though Johnson & Johnson’s sales shrank 0.2% to $16.1 billion in its first quarter, profit jumped 12.5% to $3.9 billion, or $1.41 a share. The drugmaker and medical product provider has been countering heavy competition with spending cuts.
El Segundo toymaker Mattel had a sour first quarter. Net sales worldwide slid 2% as major brands such as Barbie and Hot Wheels rolled downward. Net income was $7.8 million, or two cents a share, a 53% slump from the $16.6 million, or 5 cents a share, for the first quarter of 2011.
“We have work to do in certain areas,” said Mattel CEO Bryan G. Stockton in a statement.
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