HSBC share price slides as it posts surprise dip in profits

Emma Haslett
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HSBC Set To Axe Thousands Of Jobs And Rename UK High Street Branches
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Admittedly, it hasn't been the easiest year for HSBC - but analysts were nonetheless taken by surprise when it posted a 1.2 per cent decline in net profit for 2015.

The figures

Net profits fell to $13.52bn (£9.52bn) in the year to the end of December, down 1.2 per cent from $13.69bn last year.

Meanwhile, pre-tax profits rose one per cent to $18.9bn, from $18.7bn last year - and missing expectations of $21.8bn.

Adjusted revenues were also up one per cent to $57.77bn, while adjusted loan impairment charges rose 17 per cent to $3.72bn, which HSBC said was "across a number of countries".

HSBC's difficulties were throw into sharp relief in the final quarter of the year, when it made a pre-tax loss of $858m, down from a $1.16bn profit the year before. It also said it spent $61m on establishing a ring-fenced bank in the UK.

Read more: HSBC's decision to stay in London is a ringing endorsement for the whole of the UK

Earnings per share fell to $0.65, from $0.69 last year - while dividends rose slightly, from $0.50 last year to $0.51 this year.

Shares fell 3.9 per cent to 432.25p as the market opened
HSBC HSBC | mobile image

Why it's interesting

HSBC unveiled its landmark decision to stay in the UK this time last week, after um-ing and ah-ing for months over whether or not to shift its headquarters to Hong Kong.

It looks like the decision came not a moment too soon: like other lenders, the bank has been buffeted by economic headwinds coming from China, where growth has been discouraging to investors in recent months. Its London-listed shares are down 16.1 per cent since the beginning of the year (to put it into context, that's nothing compared to the likes of Deutsche Bank, whose shares have fallen 32.5 per cent).

HSBC was also hit by a number of corporate scandals at home and abroad in the past year - not least the Swiss private banking scandal, in which it was accused of helping a number of its private banking clients "evade" tax.

Read more: HSBC is being probed over nepotistic hiring practices

Today chief executive Stuart Gulliver said the bank had been up against a "difficult market environment" - but chairman Douglas Flint added that HSBC's performance had been "broadly satisfactory". We'll see whether investors agree when the markets open...

What HSBC said

Gulliver said:

Targeted investment, prudent lending and our diversified, universal banking business model helped us achieve revenue growth in a difficult market environment, whilst also reducing risk-weighted assets.

Strict cost management slowed cost growth and our cautious approach to credit helped keep loan impairment charges low. We made a good start in implementing the plans that we announced at our Investor Update in June. Delivering against these plans remains our primary focus.

In short

Like other lenders, the bank has been buffeted by headwinds from China.

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