BofA, Bear Stearns, Goldman Sachs, Wachovia

Bank of America boss Ken Lewis has said that he plans to limit his bank's expansion plans over the next few years, as the company gets to grips with integrating recent acquisitions. Lewis said that 'we're focused on the MBNA transition now. Internally, there's no focus on acquisitions'. Lewis may, however, make an exception if the right asset management deal came along. BofA's boss confirmed that 'we've looked at a lot of asset-management companies and we continue to do this. That would be the area that, if we saw the right deal at the right price, we would look at it real hard'.

Bear Stearns posted Q4 profits of $407m, up 15% on the same period last year. For the full year, net earnings came in up 8.7% at $1.46bn. James Cayne, the firm's chairman and CEO, said in a statement that 'Bear Stearns continues to grow and prosper as this year marks the the fourth consecutive year of record profits. All of our business segments are broader and stronger than ever before.'

The firm has also announced that it has offered $250m to settle a US regulatory probe into its mutual funds trading practices.

Goldman also enjoyed a good quarter, posting profits of $1.6bn, up 34.5% on 12 months ago. Profit for the year increased 24% to $5.62bn. David Viniar, the firm's CFO, said that 'as I sit here now, we are pretty wel-positioned in all our businesses'.  Viniar described 2005 as an 'exceptional year'.

Hank Paulson, the firm's chairman and CEO, will receive around $37m in shares and stock options for his toils this year. His salary is thought to have remained at $600,000.

Finally, Wachovia is said to be tinkering with its broker compensation package again. The firm set up a two-tier pay structure last year, which rewarded better performers. According to The Wall Street Journal, the changes are designed to prevent more average performers from throwing in the towel. The downside, however, is that some of the firm's top performers estimate that the new structure will cost them dearly. And they are not happy.

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