Merrill Lynch Toots Its Own Horn

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 11/16/2007 03:44:00 PM
I was kind of surprised to see the Merrill Lynch ad to the left while visiting the Financial Times website. You are probably familiar with the trials and tribulations at the Wall Street giant, from massive write-downs to the resignation of CEO Stan O'Neal. The ad was probably intended to shore up investor confidence in M-L, though some things strike me as odd. First, the funereal colors of the ad do not seem to jibe with the presumably upbeat mood M-L wants to convey. Second, it is unclear to me why M-L would have to make such an ad if things were so hunky-dory. Is the firm readying folks for another round of write-downs? I suspect this may be the case. Below is the message which this ad links to, and you can also view another message aimed at shoring up the confidence of retail investors. The line of reasoning here goes like this: everyone else on Wall Street is losing money, so why single us out even if we're the ones who've declared the most write-downs to date?

These have been a challenging few months, not just for Merrill Lynch but for many companies around the financial industry. But our strength as a company suggests any setbacks will be overcome.

Our financial position and liquidity remain strong. And everywhere we look, the people of Merrill Lynch are bringing extraordinary value to our clients, and producing the strong growth that goes along with it. Even with adverse mortgage-related results in the third quarter, the company's net earnings totaled $2 billion and net revenue totaled $20 billion for the first nine months of the year. Our global private client, investment banking, and equity markets businesses all had record revenues for the same period. And we continue to drive some of the most significant, innovative and leading financial transactions in the industry.

Time and again in our 93-year history, we have survived tumultuous times and tough markets and emerged the stronger for it. It's worth remembering that less than a decade ago the economy and financial industry suffered an unprecedented series of shocks - the Asian currency crisis of 1997/1998, followed by the bursting of the dot-com bubble in 2000, followed by 9/11. Then, as now, the people of Merrill Lynch rallied together, and in the years following 2001 the company produced five straight years of exceptional growth.

What the people of Merrill Lynch do in challenging times is precisely what we do in less challenging times: focus on identifying opportunities to create wealth and make a meaningful difference in the lives of our clients. We try to remember that investing is not a sprint, but a marathon, that over the long term patience is invariably rewarded. The symbol on this page is not just a corporate logo. It represents the philosophy of Merrill Lynch, an embodiment of the pride, strength, integrity and optimism that have driven the company for nearly a century, and will continue to do so far a long time to come.