As Morgan Stanley finishes integrating its brokerage joint venture with Citigroup Inc. and considers spending $10 billion to buy the whole business years ahead of plan, investors are anxiously awaiting signs that the long-promised profit machine will finally start to purr.

Since agreeing to buy Citi's Smith Barney in 2009, Morgan Stanley executives have told shareholders that returns from the retail brokerage, the world's largest, will soar and create a more consistently profitable bank. Investors are still waiting.

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