HSBC profit falls 19% as bank seeks to restore falling revenues

Revenue in the first quarter dropped 13 per cent to £10bn

Ben Chapman
Thursday 04 May 2017 06:58
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The profit decline was due to a change in the accounting treatment of the fair value on its debt
The profit decline was due to a change in the accounting treatment of the fair value on its debt

HSBC's profits fell 19 per cent in the first quarter to £3.88bn, but Europe's biggest bank beat analyst estimates.

The London-based global lender has been battling to restore revenues hit by an ongoing restructuring programme.

HSBC said pre-tax profit fell to £3.88bn, from £4.74bn a year ago, but higher than average estimates of £3.4bn average compiled by the bank.

The bank said the fall was largely due to an accounting change, with adjusted profit - which excludes one-off items - up 12 per cent to £4.62bn.

In February, HSBC reported annual profits had plummeted 62 per cent in 2016 and the bank warned of further risks caused by Donald Trump's presidency and uncertainty surrounding Brexit.

Chief executive Stuart Gulliver said in a statement on Thursday that the bank had made further progress in its cost-saving programme and would continue to shed low-return risky assets.

"Our cost-saving programme remains on track to hit the higher cost-saving target we announced at our annual results," he added.

"Our pivot to Asia continues. We increased advances to customers and grew mortgages and business lending... all three of our North American businesses delivered material increases in profit before tax."

Mr Gulliver and outgoing Chairman Douglas Flint have made it central to their strategy to simplify and refocus the bank in recent years - a response to low interest rates and more regulation.

Last week, shareholders voted overwhelmingly in favour of re-electing Mr Gulliver to the HSBC board.

The chief executive is due to retire in 2018, while chairman Mr Flint will step down in October to be replaced by Mark Tucker, currently group chief executive and president of insurance group AIA.

Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown said: "The dial has twitched in the right direction at HSBC, though the bank needs to sustain this performance for more than one quarter to convince shareholders it’s on the up and up."

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