The Sunny Side of Lehman’s Earnings

The Lehman

earnings look weirdly different now, in the aftermath of the 50bp rate cut,

than they did this morning, when most of the market was expecting just 25bp.

Back then, John

Carney was doing his best Old Curmudgeon act, scornfully saying that he

really couldn’t believe a word that Lehman was saying. Antony

Currie was pointing out that the earnings embraced so warmly by Wall Street

were basically predicated on the fact that Lehman paid far too much tax earlier

this year and therefore needed to pay less in the second half. And Mike

Mayo of Deutsche Bank summed it all up by saying that it "could have

been worse".

Now, however, things are looking sunnier, and Lehman CFO Chris O’Meara’s credit-market

optimism seems less desperate than it did. "The worst of this credit correction

is behind us," he said on the conference call, and there’s at least some

chance that he might be right. Certainly the stock market liked what it heard,

with Lehman’s shares closing

up 10% on the day – a big move even by the volatile standards of recent


O’Meara was upbeat too on the investment-banking front, where healthy profits

helped to offset losses on the credit side of the business, and where total

deal volume in 2007 is apparently on

track to beat 2006’s record by more than 15%.

So right now, in the euphoric wake of Bernanke’s put, I can’t quite get the

idea out of my head that the worst might really be over. I’m sure that I’ll

be back to normal tomorrow, though.

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