All’s well that ends well. While the global economic slowdown triggered by Europe’s growing debt problems doesn’t show any signs of ending soon, Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) might as well be content with the fact that 2011 ended on a positive note. The global investment bank managed to exceed expectations by earning just over $1 billion in Q4 2011.  And investors who have been quite eager to reward better-than-expected performers in recent weeks helped the bank’s shares gain more than 7% over trading last Wednesday after the bank declared its results. Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) also had a similar run at Wall Street when it declared its lower-than-expected loss numbers.
Goldman Sachs did well to reverse the loss it reported in Q3 2011 – only the second time in the history of the investment bank since it went public that it had to use any red ink while declaring quarterly results. But a glance through its performance for Q4 2011 highlights the fact that the situation did not get any better for the period.
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In an environment not conducive to any form of investment banking activity, Goldman kept its numbers afloat largely through the sale of a bulk of its stake in the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC). The ICBC stake sale brought in about $1.5 billion and the appreciation in share prices over the quarter resulted in a $388 million gain in the remaining stake.Notes: