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Revenue Surges at Morgan Stanley

Updated from 8:44 a.m. EDT

Morgan Stanley (MWD) kept the streak of good earnings reports alive on Wall Street firms Wednesday, reporting higher third-quarter profits before a previously announced charge in its airline-leasing business.

In the quarter, the big Wall Street investment bank earned $144 million, or 13 cents a share, compared to $837 million, or 76 cents a share. Earnings were depressed by the $1 billion after-tax charge stemming from Morgan Stanley's decision last month to exit the trouble aircraft-leasing business.

The charge marred an otherwise solid quarter for Morgan Stanley, which posted a 29% gain in revenue to $6.9 billion. Even without the charge, however, the quarter was not as good as some of Morgan Stanley's peers.

In early afternoon trading, shares of Morgan Stanley were off 46 cents to $51.94.

Excluding the item, Morgan Stanley earned $1.17 billion in the quarter, or $1.09 a share. On that basis, the firm exceeded the Thomson Financial consensus estimate of $1.05 a share. Morgan Stanley also surpassed the analyst revenue estimate of $6.26 billion.

The quarterly results are the first from Morgan Stanley since John Mack became chairman and CEO, following the tumultuous departure of Phil Purcell. The decision to exit the aircraft leasing business, something that has been a drag on earnings for several quarters, was one of Mack's first big moves since taking over the helm of the firm.

The big earnings driver at Morgan Stanley in the quarter was its institutional securities division, which includes the firm's investment bank. Net revenue from the division rose 51% to $4.16 billion. Pacing the advance was the firm's trading desk, which generated $2 billion in revenue, up 63% from a year ago.

But traditional lines of investment banking also performed well. Revenue from corporate advisory work rose 25% to $388 million. Underwriting fees rose 27% to $510 million, mostly from underwriting bond deals. Fees from stock offerings were flat, despite an industrywide surge in initial public offerings in the quarter.
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