The headquarters of Morgan Stanley. Picture: REUTERS
The headquarters of Morgan Stanley. Picture: REUTERS

Bengaluru — Morgan Stanley beat analysts’ estimates for a quarterly profit on Wednesday on gains in its wealth management business and lower expenses, sending its shares up 3%.

Revenue from the wealth management unit rose slightly in the first quarter, bouncing back from a drop in the preceding quarter, and was the only bright spot in an otherwise bleak report.

The company has been striving to grow its wealth management business, which provides financial advice to wealthy clients, to reduce its dependence on trading, which is more exposed to swings in market volatility.

Trading for Morgan Stanley, as with other large Wall Street banks, was weak. Revenue from sales and trading fell 15% to $3.74bn, with equities trading slipping 21%.

Market activity slowed considerably in the first quarter of the year as concerns over the US-China trade war eased and markets rebounded from steep losses in December 2018.

Rival Goldman Sachs Group on Monday reported an 18% drop in overall trading, with equities slipping 24%.

Morgan Stanley's investment banking revenue dropped 24%, hurt mainly by declines in its underwriting business, which includes initial public offerings, and lower advisory fees.

Morgan Stanley's total revenue fell 7% to $10.29bn, while noninterest expenses dropped 4%.

The bank said earnings attributable to common shareholders fell 9% to $2.34bn, or $1.39 per share. Excluding items, the company earned $1.33 per share. 

Analysts had estimated $1.17 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.