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Goldman's Operating Performance Raises Question Marks

Updated from 8:45 a.m. ET to include analyst comments and opening share prices.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Goldman Sachs's (GS) better-than-forecast second-quarter results continue to raise questions about the bank's performance in businesses that aren't vulnerable to a new regulatory climate.

Goldman on Tuesday reported earnings and revenue growth that significantly exceeded consensus analyst estimates, however, as with the first quarter of 2013, much of the bank's earnings beat was attributable to businesses that investors expect to decline in coming quarters.

Goldman reported a second-quarter profit of $1.93 billion, on revenue of $8.61 billion, beating adjusted estimates of $1.48 billion and $7.97 billion, respectively.

Adjusted earnings per share of $3.70 beat an estimate of $2.89 a share, according to analyst forecasts compiled by Bloomberg.

Goldman's earnings beat was attributable to $1.42 billion in revenue posted by its Investing & Lending unit, driven by rising marks to the bank's private equity investments and its portfolio of equity and debt market securities.

As regulators work to implement post-crisis fixes to Wall Street, Goldman will be constrained from private equity and securities investments. Consensus among Wall Street analysts was for Goldman to see such earnings come in below $900 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The bank was also able to post a new record in debt underwriting revenue, even amid an end-of-quarter surge in interest rates that drove the worst quarterly bond market performance since 1994.

While Goldman's earnings continue to beat Wall Street's expectations, investors will be looking for better earnings from the bank's equities and investment management businesses in coming quarters.

Those businesses showed few signs of growth in the second quarter, even as corporate and investor confidence continues to rise in the wake of the financial crisis.

Goldman's equity underwriting unit saw revenue drop 5% to $371 million in the second quarter, missing consensus estimates. Quarterly merger advisory fees of $486 million also indicated lackluster growth. Goldman's overall investment banking revenue was stabilized by record debt underwriting revenue of $695 million.

The bank's GSAM investment management unit, meanwhile, posted flat revenue from year-ago levels, at $1.33 billion. Competitors such as Wells Fargo (WFC) and Morgan Stanley (MS) are gaining market share in investment management just as many expect investors to return to equity markets.

While Goldman reported a 9% quarterly rise in equity trading revenue to $1.85 billion, those results were below growth rates posted by competitors JPMorgan (JPM) and Citigroup (C). The bank, however, continues to earn the most revenue on Wall Street from equity trading.

"The beat was primarily driven by investment gains in the Investing & Lending division, a lower than expected tax rate and a slight beat on [investent banking] fees," Richard Staite, an Atlantic Equities banking analyst, wrote in a note reacting to earnings.

After initially trading nearly 2% higher in pre-market trading Goldman Sachs's shares were falling less than 1% to $162.21, at 9:42 a.m, ET.

-- Written by Antoine Gara in New York

Stock quotes in this article: GS, WFC, MS 

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