Unlike JPM, there is little that can be faulted with Goldman's just released Q4 earnings, which saw total top-line surge to $9.24 billion on expectations of $7.83 billion, while net earnings printed at $2.822 billion, or $5.60 diluted, nearly double the $1.458 billion reported in Q3 and far above the $978MM in Q4 2011. This beat was driven by solid performance around the board, which was to be somewhat expected: after all this was a quarter of success for the world's most connected hedge fund, which saw one of its own rise to the top of the world's most venerable central bank: the Bank of England, and is certainly pining to have a Goldmanite replace Shirakawa as head of the BOJ in one month. Rhetoric aside, Goldman's performance was impressive, posting the best results since Q1 2012, when total revenues hit $9.9 billion. Increases were seen across all segments, with Investment banking rising to $1.4 billion, Equities up to $2.3 billion, Investment Management at $1.5 billion, and Investing and Lending, aka Prop (yes, the firm discloses it has a prop group, much to the dismay of many people out there apparently) of $1.973 billion. The only weak spot was FICC which while posting a solid $2.0 billion in revenue, actually declined from the $2.2 billion in Q3.
It is not immediately clear just what drove Goldman's outperformance to such highs. We will have to wait for the 10-Q release to guess just how many $100MM+ trading days the firm had, especially since VaR declined from both Q4 2011, $135, and Q3 2012, $81 to just $76. Something just does not add up.
Finally, while the comp benefits accrual taken in Q4 was only $1.976 billion, or 21.4% of revenues, on a blended TTM basis and based on the firm's 32,400 employees (down from 32,600 in Q3), this means that the average Goldman bonus in 2012 will be just under $400,000. This is up from $367,057 a year ago: a nearly 10% increase. At least someone's wages are going up.
Full revenue breakdown:
Full trailing 1 year compensation average: