Europe’s largest lender HSBC says pre-tax profits dropped 18% year over year

HSBC tower at Canary Wharf financial district in London, England

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Europe’s largest lender HSBC reported third-quarter pre-tax profits that fell from a year ago, despite strength in its Asia operations.

The bank said its reported profit before tax plunged 18% on-year to $4.8 billion in the three months that ended in September. On an adjusted basis, HSBC said its pre-tax profit fell 12% to $5.3 billion. Analysts predicted HSBC’s pre-tax profit to drop 11% to $5.3 billion for the quarter, Reuters reported.

HSBC’s reported revenue for the quarter was $13.36 billion, a 3% on-year loss.

Noel Quinn, the interim group chief executive, said parts of the bank’s business, especially in Asia, held up well in a “challenging environment in the third quarter.” The bank said its before-tax profit in Asia climbed 4% from last year, noting a “resilient performance in Hong Kong.”

But in other parts, Quinn said HSBC’s performance “was not acceptable,” including business activities within continental Europe.

“Our previous plans are no longer sufficient to improve performance for these businesses, given the softer outlook for revenue growth. We are therefore accelerating plans to remodel them, and move capital into higher growth and return opportunities,” Quinn said.

HSBC shares listed in Hong Kong dipped slightly following the earnings announcement, but still traded up 0.65%.

Here are other financial metrics, for the nine months ended Sept. 30, that analysts and investors were watching:

  • Net interest margin, a measure of lending profitability, was 1.59% — lower than the 1.67% in September 2018.
  • Earnings per share was 57 cents, on par with 56 cents a year ago.

Though the bank is headquartered in London, it earns most of its profits from Asia, particularly Hong Kong. In the first half of this year, the city accounted for 51.7% of the bank’s pre-tax profit, according to past financial filings.

Hong Kong has been crippled by widespread and increasingly violent demonstrations since June, which affected the city’s many small and medium-sized businesses. HSBC in August announced measures such as interest rebate and fee reduction to help the city’s SMEs amid economic uncertainty.

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