Morgan Stanley (MS) Last Update 10/28/21
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Morgan Stanley
Trefis Price
Top Drivers for Period
Key Drivers
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Potential upside & downside to trefis price

Morgan Stanley Company


  1. Wealth Management constitutes 46% of the Trefis price estimate for Morgan Stanley's stock.
  2. Institutional Securities (M&A Advisory, Equity Underwriting & Debt Origination, FICC Trading, Equity Trading, Principal Investments & Other) constitute 45% of the Trefis price estimate for Morgan Stanley's stock.
  3. Investment Management constitutes 9% of the Trefis price estimate for Morgan Stanley's stock.


Latest Earning

In Q3 2021, Morgan Stanley reported Total Revenues of $14.8 billion, up 26% y-o-y. This could be partially attributed to a 38% y-o-y jump in investment management and a 28% increase in wealth management businesses. Further, the institutional securities segment grew 22% y-o-y in the quarter.

Impact of coronavirus outbreak

Morgan Stanley’s stock suffered in the first quarter of 2020 as states and countries were on lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic. However, it has recovered now and has surpassed its pre-Covid peak.In 2020, Businesses investing suffered, with a shift in focus from long-term to near-term survivability. On the same lines, there was a drop in consumer demand as people refrained from discretionary expenditures. It had a negative impact on the core banking revenues of all the major banks.However, Morgan Stanley generates a big chunk of its revenues from sales & trading and investment banking businesses. Sales & Trading generated positive growth driven by higher trading volumes. This coupled with higher investment banking revenues due to a jump in underwriting deals, resulted in 16% y-o-y growth for Morgan Stanley in FY 2020. Further, the same trend is expected to drive FY2021 results.


Below are key drivers of Morgan Stanley’s value that present opportunities for upside or downside to the current Trefis price estimate for the company’s stock:

Equity Trading

  • Equity Trading Assets: Morgan Stanley’s equity trading operations are an important source of revenue. The bank’s portfolio of equity trading assets has fluctuated between $60 billion and $80 billion over 2008-12, before growing to $133 billion in 2014. The figure fell to $123 billion in 2015 due to a decline in equity market valuation over the second half of the year, before recovering to $136 billion in 2016. The figure further reduced to $106 billion in 2018 due to lower equity valuations. Going forward, we expect modest growth in trading assets. However, the bank could be forced to scale back its equities business due to additional regulations and weak market conditions. Should this occur, and trading assets decline slightly to under $100 billion by the end of the Trefis forecast period as opposed to increasing to more than $148 billion that we forecast, there could be a downside of nearly 7% to the Trefis price estimate.
  • Equity Trading Yield: Morgan Stanley’s equity trading yields have hovered around 5.4% over 2012-14, before jumping to 6.8% in 2015 thanks to a strong performance over the first half of the year even as the portfolio shrunk in value by the end of the year. The figure fell below 5.9% over 2016-17, before spiking to 8.48% in 2018 due to negative market conditions. We expect the yield to remain around 6.8% for the Trefis forecast period. However, if yields improve to the average level of 7.2% seen in 2005-07 over the Trefis forecast period, then there could be an upside of about 1% to the Trefis price estimate.


Morgan Stanley is a global financial services firm that is engaged in four distinct business areas:
  • Investment banking (M&A advisory, equity underwriting, debt origination)
  • Sales & Trading (bonds, currencies, commodities, equities, derivatives)
  • Wealth Management (high net worth individuals)
  • Asset Management


Wealth Management is the most valuable business for Morgan Stanley. The key factors that make it more valuable than other businesses are:

Higher Revenues Compared to Any Other Business

As Morgan Stanley acquired Smith Barney from Citigroup in a phased manner and focused on growing its presence in the wealth management industry, the division witnessed a steady improvement in revenues over 2010-16 - making it the single biggest source of revenue for the banking giant. In fact, Morgan Stanley’s wealth management operations now generate more revenues than its equity and FICC trading desks combined.

Steady Improvement In Operating Margins

Morgan Stanley’s efforts to improve profitability for its wealth management division has seen profit margins climb from under 10% in 2011 to well over 28% in 2018. Given the sheer size of revenues generated by the division, this translates into a significant (and stable) source of profits for Morgan Stanley. To put things in perspective, Morgan Stanley’s Institutional Securities division (investment banking and sales & trading combined) reported a pre-tax profit of $6.25 billion in 2018, while the figure for wealth management was $4.52 billion.


Increasing Demand for Investment Banking Services in Emerging Markets

With GDP and per capita income of emerging markets such as China and India growing rapidly, there is an increasing demand for capital from companies in these markets to support the growing purchasing power of the people. Also, with the integration of these markets with the global economy, there is a shifting trend in these countries, from family-run businesses to corporations. As a result of these factors, an increasing number of companies in these markets are going public, leading to a growing demand for equity underwriting services. In addition, consolidation across different sectors is driving demand for M&A advisory services.

Volcker Rule to Affect Proprietary Trading Desks of Investment Banks

The Volcker Rule restricts banks from making certain kinds of speculative investments if they are not on behalf of their customers. Morgan Stanley’s proprietary trading desks accounted for a sizable percentage of earnings before the downturn, and the Volcker Rule put a complete stop on these revenues. Although the Trump administration can potentially dilute the Volcker rule restrictions, the timing and effectiveness of proposed changes remain to be seen.

Steady Economic Growth Will Stimulate Asset & Wealth Management industry

As economic conditions continue to improve, we expect that investors will become less risk-averse and will also want to recoup losses they may have incurred during the downturn. Accordingly, we expect a recovery to stimulate investment in equity and alternative investment products.Long term trends, including the ongoing shift from state pension dependency to private retirement funding, aging populations in mature markets, and growing wealth in emerging economies, will also positively impact assets under management.