Bear Stearns Cos Inc posted a much bigger-than-expected quarterly loss on Thursday, capping a fiscal year when the fifth-largest U.S. investment bank took a beating on bad bets on risky subprime mortgages.

It was the first loss in the company's history, and the bank decided top executives would not receive bonuses. Bank of America analyst Michael Hecht said Bear's smaller bonus pool could lead to attrition and hinder a strong rebound.

Bear Stearns said it took a $1.9 billion write-down in the quarter ended November 30, reflecting the reduced value of subprime mortgage-related securities. That was bigger than the $1.2 billion the company estimated in early November.

Bear Stearns shares were down 2 percent at $89 in morning trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

Hit by the collapse of two hedge funds last summer and poor financial results, Bear Stearns said there would be no bonuses for those at the top. Chairman and Chief Executive Jimmy Cayne, the subject of unflattering articles about his time playing golf and bridge, called the results unacceptable.

Bear Stearns reported a net loss of $854 million, or $6.90 a share, for the quarter ended November 30. That compared with a year-ago profit of $563 million, or $4 a share.

Analysts, on average, had been looking for Bear to lose $1.80 a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

(Reporting by Tim McLaughlin, editing by Dave Zimmerman)