Merrill earned dollars 342m ( pounds 219m), or dollars 3.02 a share, in its first quarter, an improvement of almost two-thirds over the first three months of 1992. Revenues totalled almost dollars 4bn, an industry record.
Revenues from all its important businesses - brokerage commissions, investment banking, principal transactions and asset management - set records, while it again managed to reduce expenses as a percentage of revenues.
Wall Street was particularly impressed with Merrill's performance in cost-containment.
Perrin Long, financial services analyst with First of Michigan Corporation in Detroit, said: 'The environment couldn't be better - share volumes are up 24 per cent in New York and interest rates are low - but this also shows that management's efforts to control expenses over the past two years are being richly rewarded.'
Investment banking revenues rose 23 per cent to dollars 445m, making Merrill again the top US underwriter, with almost 20 per cent of the domestic market. It was also the leading global underwriter with 14.2 per cent market share, according to one estimate.
Increases in its swap, derivative and municipal bond business produced a 32 per cent rise in revenues from principal transactions to dollars 755m.
Commission revenues also benefited from busy US markets, rising 4 per cent to dollars 714m.
Merrill's first quarter results included a one-off charge of dollars 103m to cover a loss on the leases of some tenants of its headquarters buildings in New York's World Financial Centre.