Goldman Sachs ( GS) almost gave investors something to cheer about when it announced better than expected profit yesterday, then the bank hit shareholders over the heads with a major stock sale in its rush to repay the $10 billion in taxpayer bailout funds it received.Goldman said it earned $1.8 billion in net income for the first quarter, actually up from $1.5 billion the year before and compared with a loss in the prior quarter. And that's real net profit not the wishy washy promises of operating profits from Bank of America ( BAC), Citigroup ( C) and JPMorgan Chase ( JPM). The shares got a nice lift of 4.7% yesterday but failed to spark the kind of market rally we saw when Wells Fargo ( WFC) reported its surprisingly strong net income last week. The markets look set for a mixed opening today. The difference between the news from Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo is the share sale. Goldman is wisely taking advantage of its good news to raise funds and escape the clutches of the Trouble Asset Relief Program, but that comes at the expense of stockholders who have to suffer the dilution that comes with the planned $5 billion share offering. We're talking about 38.5 million new shares at Goldman's closing price yesterday of $130.15. It could have been worse, considering Goldman traded as low as $47 in the past 52 weeks.
Frankly, I'm disappointed in the market. Goldman deserved a better lift and investors have long been waiting for signs of a credit recovery that Goldman and Wells Fargo both delivered. Unfortunately, Goldman's planned share sale served as another reminder that stockholders are the ones paying the price for all the government "help." It will be a while before it's truly safe to go back in the investing waters. For now, the sharks are still there.