Fly Intel: What to watch in next round of big banks' earnings reports
Goldman Sachs (GS) and Bank of America (BAC) are scheduled to announce quarterly results on January 19, while Morgan Stanley (MS) is expected to report on January 20. What to watch for: 1. SELECT OPPORTUNITIES AMONG BANKS: Last week, Citi analyst Keith Horowitz upgraded Bank of America to Buy from Neutral with a price target of $37, up from $31. A steeper curve "should be more readily evident with lower premium am, in addition to securities yield lift," Horowitz told investors in a research note. The analyst sees select opportunities among the banks. Those banks that have outperformed this year aren't the banks that stand to benefit the most from a steeper curve, creating opportunities, he added. 2. POSITIVE EARNINGS SURPRISES: Earlier this month, Barclays analyst Jason Goldberg upgraded Morgan Stanley to Overweight from Equal Weight with a price target of $88, up from $60. The analyst told investors that he expects Morgan Stanley to continue to benefit from positive earnings surprises, "relatively more aggressive" capital returns and improving revenue durability. While trading comps will likely be tough in 2021, results should "remain elevated," while investment banking activity remains heightened, Goldberg contended. Citing similar reasons, the analyst also upgraded Goldman Sachs to Overweight from Equal Weight with a price target of $362, up from $270. 3. 1MDB SETTLEMENT: In a regulatory filing back in October, Goldman Sachs Group announced that it had reached settlements of governmental and regulatory investigations relating to 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB, with the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the New York State Department of Financial Services, the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority, the U.K. Prudential Regulation Authority, the Singapore Attorney General's Chambers, the Singapore Commercial Affairs Department, the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission. Goldman Sachs agreed to enter into a three-year deferred prosecution agreement with the DOJ, in which a charge against the firm, one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, will be filed and later dismissed if the firm abides by the terms of the agreement. In addition, Group Inc.'s subsidiary in Malaysia, GS Malaysia, has agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA. The company will pay total penalties, after crediting, of approximately $2.6B in connection with the settlements. A separate obligation to pay $606M in disgorgement has been credited and satisfied as a result of the firm's earlier settlement with the Government of Malaysia, in which the company paid a total of $2.5B, in addition to providing a $1.4B asset recovery guarantee. This brings the total payments in connection with governmental and regulatory settlements relating to 1MDB to an aggregate of approximately $5.1B. 4. SHARE REPURCHASES: Back in December, Goldman Sachs said in a statement that, "We are pleased that the results of the Federal Reserve's latest stress test demonstrate the resilience of the largest U.S. financial institutions in the midst of a devastating pandemic. Based on the results and guidance from the Federal Reserve, we intend to resume share repurchases next quarter. In the meantime, we will continue to serve our clients and help them navigate a challenging economic environment." During its last earnings conference call, Morgan Stanley had also said that it sees resuming buybacks in the first quarter 2021.