HSBC’s profits plunge despite tough cost cuts

Tim Wallace
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DIVING investment bank profits dragged down HSBC’s performance in the first quarter, the bank’s financial results showed yesterday.

The UK-based lender’s profits came in at $6.79bn (£4bn), down 20 per cent on the same period of 2013 despite tough cost-cutting measures.

Revenues fell 8.3 per cent to $15.88bn, outstripping the 5.3 per cent fall in operating expenses, which came in at $8.85bn in the three-month period.

By division, global banking and markets suffered most, as profits plunged 20 per cent to $2.87bn. HSBC blamed weak trading conditions, which have hit the whole sector, for the slump.

By contrast retail banking and wealth management profits improved 9.3 per cent to $1.71bn.

Commercial banking also had a strong quarter as profits increased 10.7 per cent to $2.42bn.

And the private banking arm swung back to profit, making $201m in the three-month period, compared with a loss of $125m a year earlier.

HSBC’s return on equity fell from 14.9 per cent to 11.7 per cent, below the bank’s 12 to 15 per cent target.

Analyst Gary Greenwood from Shore Capital warned that the first quarter is typically the strongest of the year, indicating the bank’s return on tangible will come in below target at an estimated 11.3 per cent for the year.

The bank’s Basel III transitional capital ratio slipped from 10.8 per cent at the end of 2013 to 10.7 per cent at the end of the first quarter.

HSBC’s shares fell 1.26 per cent.