Goldman announces $11.6bn record profits

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The Independent Online

While fortunes were being lost on trading desks all around them, Goldman Sachs emerged unscathed from the credit crisis with record profits, the giant fin-ance house has confirmed.

Lloyd Blankfein, the company's chief executive, rep-orted an annual profit of $11.6bn (5.8bn) and a 26 per cent increase in earnings, and promised a big increase in bonuses across the firm, despite one of the most traumatic years in Wall Street's recent history.

The finance industry has been abuzz with reports that Goldman netted $4bn from a bet against the mortgage market at the start of the year, which insulated it as mortgage holdings elsewhere lost their value. The company said yesterday that, netting out the gains and losses, it did not need to announce any write-downs in stark contrast to rival banks.

But the $3.3bn net income from trading bonds, currencies and commodities was slightly disappointing, and it was only through the sale of investments in power plants and other assets that Goldman man-aged to beat market expectations.

Jeff Harte, analyst at Sandler O'Neill, said: "While the company handily exceeded consensus expectations during the quarter, we expect some investors will be less impressed with the mix of earnings as trading was clearly difficult."

Goldman Sachs shares have outperformed the rest of the industry this year, but they took a 5 per cent dive in morning trading yesterday as managers warned that the outlook for the new fin-ancial year was not as rosy.

David Viniar, chief financial officer, said: "We're cautious about the near-term outlook for our businesses as we see dislocation in some of the world's capital markets has continued."

November was a particularly difficult month in the credit markets, and it was still difficult to persuade investors to part with assets that had collapsed in value.

Mr Viniar also warned that investors were still taking money out of its computer model-based hedge funds, including Global Alpha. "We are okay with those funds being smaller... this will allow them to react to markets faster."

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