Commerzbank first-quarter earnings fall short of its financial services rivals

City A.M. Reporter
COMMERZBANK posted better than expected first-quarter results yesterday thanks to strong trading and lower risk provisions but still lagged the stellar earnings of investment banking peers.

Germany’s second-biggest lender has only a small-scale investment banking business, leaving it unable to benefit from some of the stimulus measures that pushed Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to steep rises in quarterly earnings.

Commerzbank said yesterday net profit was €708m (£600m), up from a loss of €864m a year before.

The bank, which required a bailout during the crisis, clearly beat analysts’ estimates of an average €473m but analysts questioned the sustainability of earnings.

“The bank is making progress, there is a clear operative improvement,” LBBW analyst Olaf Kayser said.

He added: “But the strong first quarter cannot be extrapolated for the whole year, as the trading result is not sustainable and I expect significantly lower revenues in the next quarters.”

Merck Finck analyst Konrad Becker expects a similar development for risk provisions.

Operating profit – which Commerzbank defines as earnings before impairments, restructuring and tax – hit €771m, after an operating loss of €595m a year earlier.

Chief executive Martin Blessing said in a statement Commerzbank was on track to meet expectations for its full year earnings.

“The core bank will close 2010 with an operating profit as planned. By 2011 at the latest we will once again be profitable at group level. In 2012, we will be fully profitable with an operating result of more than €4bn,” he said.