In an interview on CNBC today, Oppenheimer analyst Meredith Whitney said Merrill Lynch (MER-$41.90) may lose money this quarter and suffer write-downs of $6 billion, as credit problems worsen.
Whitney now expects Merrill to lose $3 per share in the first quarter, and tripled her projected write-down from $2 billion. She had previously forecast a profit of 45 cents per share. The analyst also cut her 2008 profit-per-share forecast to 20 cents from $4 a share.
Analysts on average expected profit per share of 17 cents and $3.82 for the respective periods, Reuters Estimates said.
Norma Desmond: There once was a time in this business when I had the eyes of the whole world! But that wasn't good enough for them, oh no! They had to have the ears of the whole world too.
"Many expected the fourth quarter to be the 'kitchen sink' for the industry," Whitney wrote in a separate report dated Thursday. "First-quarter results (will) be a rude awakening."
Max Von Mayerling: Madame is the greatest star of them all.
Is Meredith secretly pinching our feeds?
Cecil B. DeMille: You know, a dozen press agents working overtime can do terrible things to the human spirit.
On January 19—weeks ahead of Whitney’s revised earnings guidance—we said: "The 10Q Detective believes that the Company understated asset impairment charges in the fourth quarter, and we believe that the stock will underperform the market as rising levels of non-performing assets continue to adversely impacting 1H:08 profitability."
Norma Desmond: All right, Mr DeMille, I'm ready for my close up. ~ (Gloria Swanson, Sunset Blvd.)