Goldman Sachs Group Earnings Call Insights: 2013 CCAR and M&A Details

Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS) recently reported its first quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

2013 CCAR

Howard Chen – Credit Suisse: Harvey, I was hoping to get your takeaways on the 2013 CCAR and now that all set and done. There was some disparity on the PPNR and stressed ratios between you and the FED. I was just wondering how that impacts your view on capital planning or running that process internally, if it does at all?

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Harvey M. Schwartz – CFO: When we think about capital planning, obviously first and foremost, Howard, we think about making sure that we strike that careful balance between making sure that we have capital from a defensive perspective, but also we want to be positioned for the opportunities for our clients. And we managed that process, obviously, dynamically as we go through. Specifically, with respect to the CCAR, what I would say is, we don’t have visibility into their numbers so I really can’t comment any extent on the differences between our submission and you know when we go through our submission we think about the events and we approach it from a very conservative framework.

M&A Details

Glenn Schorr – Nomura Securities International: Curious, with the market up so much and sluggish revenue backdrop across industries and everything that we know about balance sheets and cheap debt normally this would be a pretty good world for M&A, but of course there are some bigger overhangs out there. I am just curious to see what you are saying. You made a comment about pipelines, but as a general comment as you look out the next year, plus why don’t we have a better M&A backdrop. I mean, the backdrop is good, why isn’t there better M&A activity?

Harvey M. Schwartz – CFO: So, I think I highlighted in my prepared remarks. I really think it’s a question of we are very close still to the epicenter of the crisis, at least in the context of history, and so people’s memories are very fresh. And when you have periods of uncertainty, and as I said, bumps along the way like events in Europe or big shifts in employment data and economic growth it doesn’t translate well when you think about CEOs were making what obviously is the most significant decision they are making for the organization strategically, and so I think it’s going to be a bit of a lagging indicator because it will be one of those things that when we really have stability and confidence. You’ll start to see it come out of the pipeline. Having said that, obviously, we feel really good about our position competitively in our M&A franchise and it really is just a question of when activity picks up. But I wish I could tell you when?

Glenn Schorr – Nomura Securities International: I hear you. Investing & Lending; is there anything you could tell us in terms of much realized this quarter. I mean markets were up huge, so I would imagine that there was some gains along the way, but a lot of that is marks?

Harvey M. Schwartz – CFO: It really was in line with broad equity markets. So, in the past, we pointed you to the MSCI and so there are going to be periods where we obviously are performing that because of the idiosyncratic nature of the portfolio, periods we underperformed, but more or less in line.

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Glenn Schorr – Nomura Securities International: Do you still — there is a decent private component to it, so I’m assuming that there is still some big illiquidity discounts used on the private positions?

Harvey M. Schwartz – CFO: I don’t know that, I’d say. I don’t want to be careful about the word liquidity discounts, what I’d tell you that we’re — as you’d expect us to be very thorough in terms of how we mark the portfolio and as well as the orders. So, these things will be in line with the market as appropriate.

Glenn Schorr – Nomura Securities International: Then in commodities, I get the component of the business that would be weak due to just trending lower prices and less structured transactions. Is there anything on the regular story front that’s changing how you do business, how you think about the business going forward or is this strictly a cyclical phenomenon right now closing the weakness?

Harvey M. Schwartz – CFO: No, there is nothing on the regulatory environment that’s impacting the way we think about the business, specifically, now of course there are lot of rules to come. So, we’ll get more visibility and commodities and other businesses could be impacted as we see – as we get more transparency. But there is nothing in the regulatory aspects of it.

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