Barclays in line for strong profit haul

BARCLAYS will this week continue the bumper first quarter earnings trend set by the major US banks, with profits set to be buoyed by declining impairment charges and a strong start to the year in investment banking.

Barclays is expected to post first-quarter pre-tax profits of between £1.8bn and £2bn when it unveils numbers on Friday, an increase of up to 46 per cent on the £1.37bn it raked in over the first three months of 2009.

The bank is expected to unveil a surge in revenues at its investment bank Barclays Capital, led by president Bob Diamond, in line with the glittering figures posted by its US peers over the past few weeks.

Consensus analyst forecasts suggest Barclays is likely to post a full-year pre-tax profit of £6.4bn – up a fifth on last year’s results, not counting the windfall £6.3bn gain the bank booked on its sale of Barclays Global Investors. But full-year numbers are traditionally weighted towards the first, second and fourth quarters, with the third quarter generally coming in slightly weaker due to the August lull.

Writedowns on the bank’s bad debts are also expected to have fallen significantly, reflecting a broader improvement in market conditions. Chief risk officer Robert Le Blanc said at the bank’s full-year results in February that he was confident impairment charges were “past the worst”.

Barclays does not break out its quarterly pay and bonus pool, though investors will vote on the bank’s remuneration report at its annual meeting at the Royal Festival Hall on Friday.