said it cut 9,000 jobs in the fourth quarter and will record a $2.2 billion pretax charge as it struggles to bring costs in line with shrinking revenue.
The nation's top brokerage also said it expects to earn 48 cents to 50 cents a share in the fourth quarter, in line with analysts' forecasts. The estimate excludes the charge but includes costs related to the Sept. 11 attacks. Merrill expects fourth-quarter revenue to be about 8% below the third quarter's, primarily because of lower debt-trading results and a weak investment-banking environment.
The workforce reductions were carried out through divestitures, voluntary separation and layoffs, Merrill said, adding that $1.2 billion of the charge is for severance and other costs related to the job cuts.
Merrill is also consolidating its private client offices in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Australia and close or sublet excess office space in the U.S. The company will also write down certain technology assets.
Merrill expects to save about $1.4 billion a year through the initiatives.
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