You know what the downside of surpassing estimates by 30% or more in two of your last three quarters is? It's that investors get grumpy when you post a quarter that's just in line with expectations. Investors making investments in investment banks have gotten a bit spoiled of late, and while they didn't throw any tantrums over Goldman Sachs' (NYSE:GS) fiscal fourth quarter, they weren't exactly offering up hosannas either.

Like Lehman Brothers (NYSE:LEH), but unlike Bear Stearns (NYSE:BSC), Goldman posted fine year-over-year growth in net revenue but lower top line results on a sequential basis. Although asset management managed a slight sequential increase, results were 7% lower in investment banking and 19% lower in trading and principal investing. Never mind the fact those same businesses were up 32%, 23%, and 43%, respectively, on an annual basis.

Analysts and professional investors are paid worriers by nature, and these results aren't helping. The big concern is whether or not the fixed income markets are going to slow down, whether due in some part or not to the mortgage market. Since most Wall Street firms make a lot of money from fixed income trading, you can understand their concern to some point. After all, if fixed income has a bad year in 2006, it'll be tougher for these companies to grow their earnings.

Still, I would caution investors not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Goldman is a top-notch company in the business, and that allows it to attract big-time business from the likes of Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG), Washington Mutual (NYSE:WM), and Ford (NYSE:F). As long as the global investment banking market stays warm, it'll get its share.

What's more, let's not underestimate this company's ability to continue to grow through savvy principal investments (that is, putting its own money to work in investments), market share growth in asset management, and expansion of business like prime brokerage (essentially servicing the hedge fund community). Fixed income will have good years and bad years, but I expect Goldman will continue to grow pretty nicely over time.

Even though people are getting more concerned about investment banks' earnings next year, I like Goldman Sachs. That's not to say that I wouldn't like to see the stock a bit cheaper, but paying a fair price for a very good company generally works out more often than not.

Fools, now is the time to open your hearts and wallets to worthy causes! Please support our five Foolish charities at

Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).