There are 5,424 words in the Lehman Brothers press release today, but the general reaction in the markets seems to be that they’d much rather have action than words. An intent to sell a majority stake in
Neuberger Berman? An engagement with BlackRock to sell a chunk of the UK mortgage portfolio?
And then of course there’s the results: quarterly losses of $5.92 a share, which can’t be good news when your stock closed on Tuesday at $7.79. Doug McIntyre:
The bad news was genuinely bad. Lehman said it is expected to incur negative gross mark-to-market adjustments on assets of ($7.8) billion, including gross negative mark-to-market adjustments of ($5.3) billion on residential mortgage-related positions.
To put a point to it, there was nothing in the news to say that Lehman had done anything material to save its hide. It would still crater and send shareholders under.
And the mainstream press is not being any nicer. Here’s the Grey Lady, in its news report — not an opinion column:
Lehman lost $2.8 billion in the second quarter and was forced to raise $6 billion in new capital. But investors were not placated, and the firm was compelled to explore more extreme measures.
Mr. Fuld has replaced virtually every major division head, including the firm’s president and chief financial officer.
During that time he has replaced the global head of fixed income — the division from which most of Lehman’s problems have arisen — twice.
But with every measure taken, Lehman’s stock price has fallen further.
Fuld is now a laughing-stock, which means he’s toast. Here’s the WSJ, live-blogging the conference call:
“This firm has a history of facing adversity and delivering,” Fuld says. Hold music cuts in again. “We will not be distracted from” — hold music yet again! — “client franchise.” We have put in place credible plans, he says.
Obviously, he hasn’t. Come back, Goldman rumors! Only you can save us now!