The New York-based firm said it earned $1.53 billion, or 80 cents a share, up from a profit of $643 million, or 26 cents a share a year earlier. Like all the other banks, Morgan Stanley's results last year were impacted by the passage of the Republicans' tax law. Banks had to make accounting adjustments by writing off billions of dollars in what are known as tax-deferred assets.
The firm missed analysts' expectations of earnings of 89 cents a share, according to FactSet. Like other banks, Morgan Stanley struggled through the nauseating market movements that defined the last three months of 2018. Even Morgan Stanley's traders — known as some of the best in the business — reported flat equity trading revenues and a 30 percent drop in bond trading revenues.
The bank also posted a drop of $200 million in other investment banking revenues, which Morgan Stanley described as losses in its corporate lending business. Morgan Stanley's Chief Executive Officer James Gorman described the firm's performance as a "challenging fourth quarter," in a statement.
Morgan Stanley's wealth management arm, which is supposed to report steadier revenues and profits, also reported declines. Net revenues in the business were $4.1 billion in the quarter, down from $4.4 billion a year earlier.