State Street shares plummet on 2009 outlook

State Street stt dove to a 13-year low on Tuesday after the commercial bank reported a 71% drop in fourth-quarter earnings and warned of a difficult year ahead.

Shares dropped as low as $16.30 earlier in the session, a level not seen since 1996.

Though the bank achieved double-digit growth in both income and revenue in 2008, State Street said it expects 2009 results to fall flat. That's down from a long-term goal of 8% to 12% revenue growth, and 10% to 15% earnings growth. The company also expects net interest revenue to fall flat this year.

"While we expect 2009 to present industrywide challenges, we believe that the revenue drivers we have identified and the expense controls we have in place, will allow us to meet (these) financial goals," said Ronald Logue, chairman and chief executive, in a statement.

On a call with analysts, Logue asserted the bank has determined not to raise equity capital. He said wages will be frozen in 2009 as a cost-cutting measure, and the company will evaluate its dividend in the first quarter.

For the final period of 2008, the company earned $65 million, or 15 cents a share, compared with $223 million, or 57 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. Excluding certain one-time items, the company reported operating income of $511 million, or $1.18 a share, down from $540 million, or $1.38 a share, in the prior-year period.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, on average, were expecting fourth-quarter earnings of $1.14 a share. Analyst estimates typically don't factor in one-time items.

Total revenue for the quarter rose 7% to $2.67 billion, as total net interest revenue rose 52% to $843 million. Fee revenue slipped 2% to $1.88 billion.

But results were hurt by $51 million in investment losses during the quarter — compared with a loss of just $4 million in the fourth quarter of 2007. Additionally, expenses rose 19% to $2.59 billion.

For the year, State Street reported net income after paying preferred dividends of $1.62 billion, or $3.89 a share, a 29% increase over net income of $1.26 billion, or $3.45 a share, in 2007. On an adjusted basis, the company reported earnings of $2.17 billion, or $5.21 a share — narrowly beating analysts' forecast of $5.18 a share.

Total net interest revenue increased 53% to $2.65 billion, while total revenue rose 28% to $10.69 billion.

State Street was one of the initial banks to receive government funds under the $700 billion financial bailout package. The bank received a preferred stock investment of $2 billion last fall.