Updated from 10:41 a.m. EDTMerrill Lynch ( MER) followed in the steps of its competitors Tuesday, blowing past analyst estimates for second-quarter earnings as investment banking and equity trading boosted profits. Second-quarter earnings rose 44% from a year ago, helped by balanced revenue improvement in its investment banking, private client and money-management arms. Merrill earned $1.63 billion, or $1.63 a share, in the quarter, compared with $1.14 billion, or $1.14 a share, a year ago. The latest quarter's profit was well ahead of the Thomson First Call consensus estimate of $1.52 a share. Revenue rose 29% from a year ago to $8.16 billion, reflecting solid gains in all the firm's divisions. By segment, global private client revenue rose 19% to $3.045 billion; investment management revenue rose 56% to $630 million; investment banking and global markets revenue rose 33% to $4.58 billion; and revenue from principal transactions rose 17% to $1.18 billion. "All three of our business segments delivered substantial year-over-year and sequential top-line growth, underscoring the importance of the investments we have been making to diversify and expand our capabilities and geographic footprints," Merrill said. "We continue to invest in talent and technology to build further capabilities in various areas. These areas -- along with our continued focus on disciplined execution throughout the organization -- are critical to our future growth and our ability to perform in more uncertain markets." Similar to Lehman Brothers ( LEH), Goldman Sachs ( GS) and Morgan Stanley ( MS), Merrill Lynch's equity trading brought in a windfall of revenue for the firm. Revenue in the division was up 84% vs. the same quarter last year, hitting a record $1.87 billion compared to $1.02 billion for the same quarter last year. The equity success withstood a 1.9% decline in the Dow, a 3.1% decline in the S&P 500 and a 6.5% decline in the Nasdaq Composite in the last two months of the quarter.