updated 3/17/2005 11:42:39 AM ET 2005-03-17T16:42:39

Morgan Stanley’s profit rose 20 percent in its first quarter compared with a year ago, the brokerage company announced Thursday, on the strength of bond trading and credit brokering as well as the company’s investment banking business.

For the quarter ending Feb. 28, Morgan Stanley earned $1.47 billion, or $1.35 per share, compared with $1.23 billion, or $1.11 per share, in the first quarter of 2004. Revenues rose 10 percent to $6.85 billion from $6.24 billion a year ago.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call had expected Morgan Stanley to earn $1.15 per share on revenues of $6.54 billion.

Sales from fixed-income securities rose 21 percent from last year, setting a record, while equity sales and revenues were the highest in four years, the company said.

Morgan Stanley also ranked first in global initial public stock offerings for the first two months of 2005 and third in advising global mergers and acquisitions.

The company’s Discover Card division had pre-tax earnings of $380 million, a quarterly record, and transaction volume for the quarter was the second-highest ever posted.

“Profits were excellent, led by a record quarter in fixed income and Discover,” said Philip Purcell, chairman and chief executive officer. “We continue to see growth opportunities across our businesses.”

Only the company’s individual investor group lagged behind most divisions, posting only a small 2 percent gain in revenues, as lower trading volumes in early 2005 resulted in a decline in commissions and fees.

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