July 31, 2009 / 10:13 AM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-Morgan Stanley to improve performance quickly - analyst

July 31 (Reuters) - Morgan Stanley’s (MS.N) poor showing in the first half of 2009 is no permanent impairment and the investment bank, which last week posted a third straight quarterly loss, will be able to narrow the gap in performance relatively quickly, a Citigroup analyst said after meeting with a top official of the company.

Citigroup analyst Keith Horowitz, who met with Morgan Stanley Chief Financial Officer Colm Kelleher earlier this week, cited the CFO as saying that the company is tackling “head-on” its recent underperformance in its fixed income, currencies and commodities (FICC) business.

Morgan Stanley’s second-quarter fixed-income results of $973 million, which had a gain of 44 percent compared with a year ago, were dragged down by a $1.3 billion loss related to improving spreads on its own credit.

Those results were dwarfed by the $6.8 billion reported by chief rival Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N), almost triple what it was a year earlier.

But Morgan Stanley is executing a clear plan to close the gap in its FICC performance with fresh management, over 200 recent hires, commitment to boost capital allocated to agency flow business in liquid products, and broadening its focus on wider set of clients, Horowitz said.

Morgan Stanley’s Kelleher expects the venerable institution will begin to regain the market share it lost in the coming quarters, given its reputation and relationships, Horowitz added.

Kelleher maintained his “constructive” view on the market, citing recent signs of stabilization, including improvements in secured and unsecured funding and declining use of the U.S. Federal Reserve liquidity programs, Horowitz said.

Kelleher, however, views potential new regulation — which includes potential mandatory listing of over-the-counter derivatives and institution of a central counterparty, as well as possible commodities trading position limits — as among the biggest risks facing the industry, Horowitz said.

In addition, July trends were slower for the company compared with that of the second quarter, but was still like a “normal July,” according to Kelleher. Horowitz maintained his “hold” rating and price target of $30 on the stock.

Shares of Morgan Stanley closed at $28.36 Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Tenzin Pema in Bangalore; Editing by Jarshad Kakkrakandy)

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