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HSBC stems revenue drop, posts surprise gain in profits

LiveMint logoLiveMint 04-05-2017 Stephen Morris

London/Hong Kong: HSBC Holdings Plc posted a surprise increase in first-quarter profit after chief executive officer Stuart Gulliver stemmed the revenue decline that’s dogged his six-year tenure.

Adjusted pre-tax profit, which excludes one-time items, rose 12% to $5.94 billion, the London-based lender said in a statement on Thursday. Adjusted revenue rose 2%, compared with the 9% drop forecast by analysts, bolstered by growth at its three biggest businesses.

“I’d be a happy man if I could close out 2017 right now,” finance director Iain Mackay said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. He played down the prospect of more stock buybacks on top of the $3.5 billion of purchases HSBC made in the past eight months to bolster its share price.

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Gulliver, in what may be his final full year in charge of Europe’s biggest lender, has exited almost 100 businesses and 18 countries—moves that have taken a toll on revenues—while enduring several costly misconduct scandals. The bank has recruited Mark Tucker to succeed Douglas Flint as chairman in October, giving the head of insurer AIA Group Ltd the task of galvanizing growth and finding a new CEO.

“I certainly wouldn’t encourage investors to think that we’re going to do buybacks every quarter,” Mackay said. The adjusted pre-tax profit number reported by the bank beat the $5.3 billion average estimate in a Bloomberg analyst survey.

“Our global businesses maintained their momentum from the end of 2016,” Gulliver said in the statement.

“Our cost-saving programme remains on track to hit the higher cost-saving target we announced at our annual results.” Bloomberg

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