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    商業 - 金融

    高盛盛況不再

    Shawn Tully 2014年10月16日

    一份最新的業績分析顯示,高盛昔日王者地位已不再。這家華爾街傳奇公司如何才能重現往日輝煌?

    ????

    ????和紐約洋基隊(New York Yankees)一樣,高盛(Goldman Sachs)公司也是一個傳奇。它是金融界最響亮的名號;雖然偶爾會讓人失望,但這支明星團隊戰績彪炳;而且它總能發掘出新的撈金手段。

    ????現在,這家擁有145年歷史的老字號投資銀行成了華爾街的新聞焦點。無論新聞是正面還是負面,高盛依然牢牢吸引著人們的關注。有檢舉人指控高盛在紐約聯儲(New York Fed)獲得了監管機構的特殊待遇,導致該公司遭到媒體的口誅筆伐。公眾利益網站ProPublica的一篇報道則稱,屈從于高盛的強大勢力,聯儲官員未能阻止一些利潤巨大的可疑交易,但是高盛對此則極力否認。與此同時,該公司最近監管了阿里巴巴(Alibaba)歷史性IPO的早期交易,再次證明了自己的地位。

    ????但是現在的高盛到底有多好?最近一次的業績分析顯示,至少從目前來看,高盛往日的王者地位已不再,它的業績僅屬于中等偏上。高盛的業務及其經營環境已經發生重大轉變,并且局勢對高盛不利。曾經刺激其利潤大幅飆升的冒險性投資現在已成為禁區。

    ????“和過去相比,他們現在的管理方式非常保守,還要等幾年才能知道他們對新環境適應的怎么樣?!蓖顿Y管理公司Farr, Miller & Washington的基金經理基思?戴維斯說道。該公司持有價值2,000萬美元的高盛股份。

    ????人們擔心的是,高盛已經招數用盡。

    ????高盛未來的前進道路面臨兩大障礙。首先,現在它主要的特許經營業務是交易,就當下來說,這是一項不太暴利的業務。交易,即買賣股票、債券、大宗商品和外匯,這項業務的比重與過去相比陡然上升。在2000年時,高盛有60%的銷售額來自兼并和收購咨詢、企業融資和資產管理。而到了2013年,這些高利潤的業務在高盛共計340億美元的營收中僅占37%。該混合業務結構目前看來使高盛業績表現低迷,眾人期待已久的反彈并未出現。

    ????其次,過去高盛大部分的利潤都來自“自營投資”,即利用銀行自有資金買賣股票,收購公司,以及投資私募和對沖基金。然而,多德弗蘭克(Dodd-Frank)銀行改革法案的主要規定“沃克爾法則”(Volcker Rule)禁止自營交易,同時嚴格限制銀行投資。對高盛來說,這條原本利潤豐厚的賺錢渠道目前已基本關閉。

    ????結果就是,高盛的盈利能力遭到重創。2005至2007年間,高盛的平均凈資產收益率高達28.4%。之后,該行只有一年表現出色,那就是2009年,當時市場在金融危機后開始解凍,投資者紛紛拋售債券,給高盛帶來巨大交易量和驚人的利潤(或者說是這些交易中的“息差”)。自2012年以來,它的凈資產收益率均值已經降至10.5-11%。

    ????不過,這也還不算壞。下降的主要原因是新的法規要求所有銀行降低杠桿。高盛過去每一美元的股本可支持20美元的資產;現在一美元的凈值只能支持10.50美元的資產。這是好事,因為它可以減輕高負債水平造成的巨大回報波動。在一個投資10年期美國國債只能獲得2.5%收益率的時期,10-11%的凈資產收益率看起來也不錯。而且高盛的凈資產收益率和競爭對手相比仍有優勢。雖然不及富國銀行(Wells Fargo,凈資產收益率13.6%)和美國合眾銀行(US Bancorp,凈資產收益率12%),但是明顯優于摩根大通(JP Morgan,凈資產收益率8.3%)、花旗銀行(Citigroup,凈資產收益率6.7%)和摩根士丹利(Morgan Stanley,凈資產收益率6.5%)。

    ????Goldman Sachs enjoys a mystique rivaling the élan of the New York Yankees. It’s the classiest name in the financial leagues; a sterling organization that may disappoint now and then, but whose heavy hitters you shouldn’t bet against; and the ultimate improviser in finding fresh ways to make money.

    ????Right now, the fabled 145-year old investment bank is leading the news on Wall Street. For good or ill, Goldman remains an object of intense fascination. It’s getting pounded in the press over a whistleblower’s charges that it received special treatment from regulators at the New York Fed. According to a story on the public interest website ProPublica, Fed officials were so intimidated by the Goldman brass that they failed to block transactions that were as suspicious as they were lucrative—allegations Goldman vehemently denies. At the same time, Goldman recently confirmed its stature by overseeing early trading for Alibaba’s historic IPO.

    ????But how good, really, is Goldman Sachs? An analysis of its recent performance reveals that, for the present at least, Goldman is nowhere near the champion of old. Its record ranks somewhere between pretty good and mediocre. Its businesses, and the environment in which it operates, have shifted dramatically, and not in Goldman’s favor. The kind of adventurous investments that once swelled its earnings are now off-limits.

    ????“In contrast to the past, they’re being extremely conservative in the way they’re managing, and it will take a couple of years to see how they adapt to the new environment,” says Keith Davis, a portfolio manager with Farr, Miller & Washington, which holds $20 million in Goldman shares.

    ????The fear is that Goldman has run out of moves.

    ????Goldman’s path forward is restricted by two barriers. First, its main franchise is now trading, a business that, for the time being, isn’t terribly profitable. The dominance of trading—making markets in stocks, bonds, commodities and currencies—represents a sharp break with the past. In 2000, 60% of its sales came from advising on mergers and acquisitions, raising money for corporations, and asset management. In 2013, those high-margin businesses accounted for just 37% of Goldman’s $34 billion in revenues. So the mix is now tilted toward a field that’s depressed, where a long-awaited rebound just isn’t happening.

    ????Second, Goldman has traditionally generated big profits from “principal investments,” using its own capital to trade in and out of stocks, take ownership positions in companies, and invest in private equity and hedge funds. The Volcker Rule, a pillar of the Dodd-Frank banking reform legislation, bans proprietary trading and severely restricts the investments banks can make. This formerly lucrative channel is now mostly closed to Goldman.

    ????As a result, Goldman’s profitability has suffered. From 2005 to 2007, Goldman delivered a spectacular return on equity of, on average, 28.4%. Since then, the bank has enjoyed just one excellent year. That was 2009, when markets began to thaw after the financial crisis and investors dumped bonds en masse, handing Goldman both huge volumes of trades and fantastic margins, or “spreads,” on those trades. Since 2012, its ROE has dropped to an average of 10.5% to 11%.

    ????Still, that’s not bad. A major reason for the decline: new regulations have forced all banks to lower their leverage. Goldman used to support $20 in assets with every dollar of equity; today, a dollar in net worth backs just $10.50 in assets. That’s a good thing, since it should smooth the big swings in returns caused by high levels of debt. An ROE in the 10% to 11% range also looks good in a period where investors pocket just 2.5% on 10-year Treasury bonds. And Goldman’s ROE compares favorably to its rivals. Though it trails Wells Fargo (13.6%) and US Bancorp (12%), it waxes JP Morgan (8.3%), Citigroup (6.7%), and Morgan Stanley (6.5%).

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