Nomura joins Wall Street giants in profiting from trading

Despite that, Kitamura struck a cautious tone as Covid-19 batters the global economy and prompts Nomura CEO to review businesses

TOKYO • Nomura Holdings Inc swung back to profit last quarter, benefitting from the buoyant trading conditions that lifted the earnings of Wall Street peers Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Net income more than doubled to ¥142.5 billion (RM5.7 billion) in the three months ended June 30, as revenue from the wholesale division climbed to a record. Still, CFO Takumi Kitamura struck a cautious tone as the coronavirus pandemic batters the global economy and prompts new CEO Kentaro Okuda to review businesses.

“While we achieved a very strong result this time, we are not in a situation where we can be that optimistic,” Kitamura told reporters yesterday. “We’d like to proceed with efforts including cost reduction and business portfolio reviews.”

Nomura has cut dozens of jobs at its investment bank in the US, people with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg earlier. The firm notified some workers on Tuesday, according to the people, who said less than 10% of the investment-banking staff in the US are affected.

“Clients’ needs may change in the post-coronavirus era,” Kitamura said, declining to comment directly on the news. Nomura’s wholesale activities have cooled in the current quarter, he said.

Revenue from fixed-income trading jumped to the highest ever, helping the global markets business generate a record ¥232.6 billion. Investment banking revenue fell amid a slump in equity underwriting and merger deals in Japan. The five biggest US investment banks generated US$33 billion (RM139.92 billion) in trading revenue during the period.

“This is a very good first quarter (1Q), especially in the global markets business,” said Toshihiro Matsuo, an analyst at S&P Global Ratings. “It wasn’t a big surprise per se following the results of US investment banks, but it showed that Nomura is on a similarly strong trend.”

The fiscal 1Q profit was helped by a ¥71.1 billion valuation gain on its Tokyo headquarters stemming from the redevelopment of the Nihonbashi business district. It compares to a surprise loss in the previous quarter, when Nomura suffered paper losses on loans and securities during the pandemic- fueled market turmoil.

The domestic business serving retail investors also saw profit rise, even after branch windows were closed due to a national state of emergency to combat the outbreak.

Shares of Nomura closed 0.7% lower before the results were announced, taking this year’s decline to 15%. — Bloomberg