Goldman Sachs ( GS) has battled back from the crisis of confidence that sent its shares to below $50 in November, but analyst Richard Bove cautions against buying the stock at its current level. Bove, who recently joined Rochdale Securities, initiated coverage of Goldman with a hold rating and a target price of $123. Goldman shares were recently trading down fractionally at $110.29 Wednesday, nearly 140% above its multi-year low of $47.41, reached in November. "New buyers are advised to seek a better price point for entry," Bove writes, despite arguing the bank is likely to be profitable in each quarter of 2009. After competitors like Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers went out of business or sold themselves at massively distressed share prices, Goldman and archrival Morgan Stanley ( MS ) converted themselves to bank holding companies and have seen their stock prices come roaring back. Morgan Stanley's rally has been even more impressive than Goldman's, though it also fell much lower in November. Bove has not yet published a report on Morgan Stanley in his new position. Both Goldman and Morgan Stanley have enjoyed their rallies even as other large banks like Citigroup ( C) and Bank of America ( BAC) have continued to struggle. Goldman has lately been very vocal about its desire to pay back as soon as possible the $10 billion capital injection it received from the federal government. The advantages of its doing so have become even more apparent in light of the furor over $165 million in retention bonuses paid to executives at AIG ( AIG), the biggest beneficiary of government funds during the current crisis. The ties between Goldman and AIG have become increasingly apparent, since it became public that a large portion of the $170 billion in government money funneled into AIG was used to pay debts to Goldman incurred in credit default swaps trades.
Several news reports stated Goldman would sell its stake in Chinese bank ICBC to help raise the money to pay back the U.S. government. However, on Wednesday ICBC announced Goldman had agreed to new lockup provisions under which it will not sell 80% of its ICBC shares at any time prior to April 28, 2010.