NEW YORK - The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. reported results yesterday from a record year for the company, but it offered a cautious 2008 outlook for itself and the brokerage industry.
During the fiscal fourth quarter, Goldman's $3.17 billion profit was fueled by higher investment-banking fees, onetime asset sales, and surprisingly strong debt-trading results.
Although the quarterly results easily surpassed Wall Street's projections, for some analysts, they lacked the kind of power and finesse investors have come to expect.
"Relative to the Street, this is an impressive quarter," Wachovia Capital Markets L.L.C. analyst Douglas Sipkin said in a note to clients. "Relative to [Goldman], this is probably a touch disappointing."
Goldman said it faced one of the worst Novembers on record, which has only somewhat loosened this month.
"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," Goldman chief financial officer David Viniar said in a conference call with reporters. "We're getting closer to the bottom."
That caused already skittish investors, who are looking for any signs that the market will bounce back, to sell shares of financial stocks. Goldman shed $7.12, or 3.41 percent, to close at $201.51. The stock dipped as low as $196.90 on the day.
Goldman's troubles were taken as something of an ominous sign for other investment banks yet to report results, particularly Morgan Stanley, which reports today, and Bear Stearns, which reports tomorrow.
Goldman's fourth-quarter profit came to $7.01 a share, which was up from $6.59 a share, or $3.10 billion, in the year-earlier period.
Fees from underwriting and stock trading drove revenue for the three months ended Nov. 30 to $10.74 billion from $9.41 billion.
Results surpassed Wall Street projections for a profit of $6.61 a share on revenue of $10.16 billion, according to analysts polled by Thomson Financial.
For the full fiscal year, the investment house posted a profit of $11.6 billion, up 22 percent from the previous year.