* July-Sept net profit 27.7 bln yen vs 6.2 bln consensus
* Boosted by $1.6 bln trading gain, investment trusts
* To pay 4 yen/shr dividend, first payout in 3 quarters
* Shares close up 0.3 pct before result, down 12 pct in 2009 (Recasts to lead on net profit that strips out contributions from companies in which it has minority stakes)
By Junko Fujita
TOKYO, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Nomura Holdings Inc (8604.T), Japan's largest brokerage, reported its biggest profit in nine quarters, beating market expectations, on strong sales of mutual funds and $1.6 billion in trading gains.
The solid results, which prompted the broker to pay its first dividend in three quarters, show that Nomura is beginning to profit from its purchase of the European and Asian operations of failed investment bank Lehman Brothers LEHMQ.PK last year.
But Nomura's improving fortunes also mirrored strong earnings at rivals such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) and JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), which also bounced back with global financial markets, and could prove fleeting, some analysts said.
"This time the acquisition of Lehman had a positive impact," said Ehsan Syed, director at Fitch Ratings in Tokyo.
"But it is not clear how the acquisition will contribute to Nomura's future earnings as brokerage earnings are vulnerable to changes in the market environment and are difficult to forecast."
Nomura posted a 27.7 billion yen ($303 million) net profit for July-September, compared with a 72.9 billion yen loss a year earlier, marking its largest quarterly profit since the April-June quarter of 2007.
The result beat the average estimate of 6.2 billion yen profit in a survey of three analysts by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Nomura benefited from solid demand for mutual funds from retail investors encouraged by an uptick in equity markets, and booked a 148.5 billion yen gain from its trading operations, a sharp swing from a 21 billion yen loss a year earlier.
"From this result we can see the unification of Lehman and Nomura has started to work," Nomura Chief Financial Officer Masafumi Nakada told a news conference.
Nomura Chief Executive Kenichi Watanabe had said in a speech on Tuesday that the broker was now rebuilding its U.S. operation after it shrank the business there following heavy losses in the residential mortgage-backed securities arena.
The U.S. expansion was part of the reason why Nomura increased its capital this month by selling about $4.7 billion shares, Watanabe said.
Nomura is capitalising on the retreat of some Wall Street firms and boosting its fixed income operations in the United States. It hired two senior bankers from Barclays (BARC.L) and Citigroup Inc (C.N) as co-heads to cement the business in the Americas. [ID:nN08425477]
Prior to the announcement, shares of Nomura rose 0.3 percent to 643 yen, down 12 percent since the start of 2009. Tokyo's brokerage sector subindex .ISECU.T fell 0.1 percent on Wednesday, down 4 percent so far this year.
Nomura said it would pay a 4 yen per share dividend after forgoing a payout for the previous two quarters. (Editing by Nathan Layne and Jean Yoon)