Goldman Sachs CFO Viniar Feels ‘A Tiny Bit Better’ About Europe

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AAAAAElFTkSuQmCCShares of Goldman Sachs were comfortably higher Wednesday morning, even after the bank recorded fourth-quarter earnings that dove more than 50% from a year ago.

Goldman earned just over $1 billion in the October-December period, or $1.84 per share, on $6.1 billion in revenue. Analysts expected profits of $1.24 per share on $6.5 billion in revenue. (See “Goldman’s Q4 Profit Halved As Global Stress Weighs.”)

Chairman and Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein said the firm’s results reflected a challenging global environment that negatively impacted clients’ risk tolerance, and CFO David Viniar echoed those sentiments on a conference call Wednesday.

“Clients were materially more risk averse” in the fourth quarter, Viniar said, a trend that was mirrored by the firm’s own activity. While Viniar touted Goldman’s advisory work in deals like HealthSpring’s sale to Cigna and its underwriting of offerings like the December IPO of Michael Kors, he also acknowledged the ongoing challenges facing the firm and its peers, chief among them the sovereign debt crisis in Europe.

Viniar said he feels “a tiny bit better” about the situation across the Atlantic than he did at the end of the third quarter, he warned that it is still too early to make any big judgments. “Macro concerns still have clients in wait-and-see mode,” he said.

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