Chris Lau - Seeking Alpha

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Good Bank Results?

Goldman Sachs:

But Goldman's report was not all positive. The bank said its net loss for common shareholders was $1.03 billion in December, prompting some to question whether the change in financial years had allowed Goldman to dump much of its bad news into that one-off period and start afresh in the first quarter.

Wells Fargo:

That gain comes as the result of WFC’s controlling interest in a legacy joint venture with Prudential Financial; the joint venture was acquired when Wells took over Wachovia last fall. Prudential currently holds a 23 percent non-controlling interest in the venture, as well as a put option on its interest in the venture; according to government filings, Prudential intends to exercise such an option “at a date in the future.”

Analysts are aware of this change, but say that a lack of transparency from Wells is making it difficult to see just how much of the bank’s jump in quarterly earnings is due to this ‘liability into asset’ transformation. And, of course, this one-time non-cash event happens to occur in a quarter where Wells needs a boost in earnings in order to bring up its lagging stock price, and ostensibly to set up any future capital raises.