Case | HBS Case Collection | March 2009 (Revised July 2010)

State Street Corporation

by William E. Fruhan

Abstract

To maximize their effectiveness, color cases should be printed in color. State Street Corp. reports a 13% gain in EPS in 2008 amidst a global financial crisis. The stock price declines 59% on the day of the earnings report. This one day decline was exceeded in the prior 12 month period by only one non-bankrupt S&P 500 company. That company was AIG, Inc. which declined 61 % on the day Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy. While State Street reported $5.0 billion in profits over the 4-year period 2005-2008, the company also sustained $10.0 billion in after tax mark-to-market losses on its "available for sale" investment portfolio and the investment portfolios of its conduits. The question is, how has the firm performed over the past four years? Has it earned $5.0 billion or lost $5.0 billion? Fair value accounting plays a key role in the dilemma. How should a financial services firm measure and report income in the face of disorderly and illiquid markets for its principal assets? The case also examines how management at State Street responded to the deterioration in its capital ratios generated by "fair value" accounting.

Keywords: Fair Value Accounting; Financial Reporting; Financial Crisis; Financial Liquidity; Financial Markets; Crisis Management; Financial Services Industry;

Citation:

Fruhan, William E. "State Street Corporation." Harvard Business School Case 209-112, March 2009. (Revised July 2010.)