Friday 24 February 2017 9:35 am

This is how City analysts reacted to RBS' results

Royal Bank of Scotland reported its ninth consecutive annual loss this morning, pushing shares down two per cent.

The lender's losses widened to £6.96bn in 2016, compared with £1.98bn the year before, largely due to litigation and conduct costs

This is how the analysts reacted: 

Groundhog Day

RBS chief exec Ross McEwan "must feel that he is trapped in a dystopian nightmare with RBS as no sooner does he overcome one obstacle than he encounters another", according to CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

"So far we’ve had nine reminders of the costs of what happens when things going wrong and Mr McEwan like the rest of us must be hoping that we don’t get a tenth," he added.

"Management expressed optimism that the bank would return to profit in 2018, in language that has an all too familiar ring to it. Let’s hope this year’s optimism is not misplaced.

"Whatever happens it is quite clear that any return to paying a dividend remains some way off, and while today’s losses weren’t too much of a surprise it would appear investor reaction to the numbers has been relatively cool with the shares slipping back in early trade."

Paying for sins of the past

Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Laith Khalaf said: "RBS is still paying for the sins of the past, though the bank is now saying that 2017 is going to be its last year in purgatory, and that shareholders can look forward to a brighter, more profitable year in 2018.

"That may well be the case, there is a decent bank inside RBS struggling to get out, but it’s those 'one-off items' which pop up with such alarming regularity which keep pushing the bank deep into the red."

Khalaf was positive on the lender's prospects: "The bank is certainly making progress, though it has been severely hampered by mopping up the mess left by the financial crisis. There is every reason to believe RBS can be a profitable bank, returned to private hands, the question is how long it will take to get there."

More to come?

Accendo Markets analyst Mike van Dulken and Henry Croft said FTSE sentiment could be impacted by RBS' poor showing, and warned the company's outlook suggested there was "more to come (legacy clean-up, US legal settlements) before a return to profitability".

Work to do

Gary Greenwood at Shore Capital noted that RBS shares have increased by 67 per cent since hitting a post-EU referendum low of 149p – despite failing the most recent Bank of England stress test – because the UK economy has held up better than expected and the group has made some progress in addressing various legacy issues. He highlighted the recent decision to cancel the disposal of Williams & Glyn.

However, he added: "There remains work to do before dividend payments can recommence and the UK government can begin selling down its remaining 72 per cent holding in the stock."