Wachovia Corp., the U.S. bank that hired Treasury Undersecretary Robert Steel as chief executive officer two weeks ago, reported a record quarterly loss of $8.9 billion, slashed the dividend and announced 6,350 job cuts. The stock slumped as much as 10 percent in New York trading.
The second-quarter loss of $4.20 a share compared with net income of $2.3 billion, or $1.23, a year earlier, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based company said today in a statement. The loss included a $6.1 billion charge tied to declining asset values.
The writedown, job cuts and second dividend reduction in three months reflect Steel’s response to the worst housing market since the Great Depression, which cost former CEO Kennedy Thompson his job after eight years. Wachovia has dropped more than 75 percent since it spent $24 billion two years ago to buy Golden West Financial Corp. just as home prices were peaking.
“Steel is clearly trying to get his arms around this,” said Joseph Gordon, president of Gordon Asset Management in Durham, North Carolina, which owns Wachovia shares and manages more than $200 million. Even so, “We aren’t advising any clients to buy until they fess up and go full transparency on Golden West and their commercial lending problems.”