Goldman Sachs Group reported higher-than-expected fourth-quarter profit of $978 million (635 million pounds), or $1.84 per share, compared with a gain of $2.2 billion one year earlier. Analysts had forecast earnings of $1.24 cents a share.

Below are comments from analysts and investors:

GARY TOWNSEND, President, Hill-Townsend Capital, Chevy Chase, Maryland: Goldman is adjusting and continuing to operate reasonably well in a difficult environment. I would prefer to see them investing more in their operations, but clearly right now they have to right-size their staffing to be consistent with the revenues the market is allowing them to generate.

WAYNE KAUFMAN, chief market analyst, John Thomas Financial, New York: Earnings were very nice. They're citing cost-cutting, though they missed on revenue. This is just another good piece of information. Even though Citigroup missed, we've had some good data regarding loan demand. This is not the huge upside we'd all love to see, but it does point to a bottoming, or a lifting off the bottom.

(Reporting By Ryan Vlastelica and David Henry)