Merrill Lynch reported a fourth-quarter loss of $9.8 billion, or $12.01 a share, nearly triple the per-share loss most analysts predicted, reports Bloomberg. It was the second straight losing quarter for the nation’s largest broker, and capped the company’s first full-year loss since 1989. Merrill said it took $11.5 billion in writedowns on subprime mortgage-related securities.
The disastrous fourth quarter resulted in a $7.78-billion loss for the year for Merrill, one of three of the Big Five Wall Street securities firms hit hard by bad bets on the subprime mortgage market. Morgan Stanley and Bear Stearns also reported huge fourth-quarter losses. CEO John Thain, who took over in December, has shored up the company’s balance sheet with $12 billion from outside investors.