Boom: Credit Suisse profits smash expectations

 
Emma Haslett
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(FILES) The logo of Credit Suisse, the S
Credit Suisse beat expectations in its third quarter (Source: Getty)

A crisis in European banking, you say? Credit Suisse profits smashed expectations in the third quarter, results today showed.

The figures

The lender reported adjusted pre-tax income of SFr327m, up 13 per cent - pretty good going, considering analysts had expected a SFr220m loss.

Net new assets in its wealth management arm rose 40 per cent to SFr30.9bn in the first nine months of the year compared with the same period last year.

The lender also said it had cut its headcount by 5,400 of the 6,000 job cuts it's hoping to make by the end of the year. It said it had made cost savings of SFr1.5bn in the first nine months of the year, putting it on track to beat its full-year target.

Why it's interesting

European banking isn't the business to be in if you want an easy life - lenders like Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and Monte dei Paschi have been hit hard by a combination of fines from the US, longer-for-lower interest rates, wonky balance sheets, and, of course, Brexit.

Indeed, in September Credit Suisse boss Tidjane Thiam said the sector was in a "very fragile situation". Understatement, much? The lender reported its first annual loss in eight years in February, and things have been pretty unpleasant since.

So the fact Credit Suisse posted a profit today is a credit to its management, which has taken drastic action - such as all those job cuts and a swing away from investment banking - as the crisis wore on. The lender is seeking to cut costs by more than SFr3bn by 2018, too.

In April, Thiam warned that "financial performance in 2016 [will] continue to be affected by restructuring initiatives" – but that was without any drop in confidence caused by Brexit vote, which he said in July had led to "challenging conditions". Shares are half what they were a year ago. It's going to be a long old slog to get those back up.

What Credit Suisse said

Thiam struck a cautious note.

Looking ahead, we expect market activity to continue to be influenced by geopolitical and macro-economic uncertainty over the next several quarters and the outlook to remain challenging.

We still have a long way to go in our journey but we are fully mobilised to deliver in challenging market conditions on our key commitments to reduce cost, strengthen our capital base and drive profitable business growth.

What analysts said

Naeem Aslam, Think Markets:

In terms of earning, Credit Suisse has proved that it still has the ability to rip all the analysts' estimates about earnings... This is the direct impact of implementing strategies and now results are yielding a very handsome dividend. However, the bank has managed the future expectations and maintained that it is wary about the geopolitical challenges and feeble growth.

In short

A good day for Credit Suisse, although this could just be the calm before yet another storm.

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