Barclays PLC Q1 Profit Declines 25%, I-Banking Saves the Day


Barclays PLC (NYSE:BCS) (LON:BARC) first-quarter pre-tax profit fell to £1.8 billion ($2.7 billion) from £2.4 billion in the year-ago period, missing analysts’ estimates.

The investment banking unit saved the blushes by accounting for 74 percent of its pre-tax profit or £1.32 billion. This was due to enhanced profit from underwriting stock offerings and servicing hedge fund clients.

However, this shows the weakness in other business segments such as retail banking in Europe and Africa. Interestingly, Rich Ricci, who headed the bank’s investment banking unit, resigned last week.

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Barclays PLC rival Credit Suisse Group AG (NYSE:CS), also declared steady first quarter results at its investment banking unit, raising anticipation for other large banks such as UBS AG (NYSE:UBS) and Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE:DB) (ETR:DBK) which report on Tuesday.

Barclays closed branches in Europe and slashed investment banking jobs at home and in Asia in a program titled ‘Go-To’. Barclays “Project Transform” plan absorbed £514 million with an additional £500 million expected to be spent during this year. The bank’s restructuring plan is expected to take 5-10 years to see tangible benefits to its bottom line.

Barclays PLC  shares fell less than 1 per cent in early morning trading in London on Wednesday.

Barclays has to confront several challenges in the recent past including a $450 million settlement with American and British authorities for alleged manipulation of global benchmark London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) by some of its traders. In addition, Barclays PLC (NYSE:BCS) (LON:BARC) had to provide over £ 2 billion for miss-selling Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) and another £ 400 million for miss-selling Interest Rate Swaps to small businesses.

They have also come under increasing pressure from British regulators to enhance its capital reserves to protect against financial shocks. Barclays indicated that its core capital ratio was 11 percent at the end of March. This would have been 8.4 percent had the new accounting rules ‘Basel III’ were fully in force.

Barclays PLC (NYSE:BCS) (LON:BARC) statutory pre-tax profits for the first quarter were £1.5 billion compared to a loss of £525 million in the same quarter last year. This prompted the bank to say it had had a good start to the year.

Barclays PLC (NYSE:BCS) (LON:BARC) new Chief Executive Antony Jenkins during a conference call, indicated that the bank has put in a substantial amount of activity and he was pleased with the progress made so far. The banks overhaul program is expected to cut costs by £1.7 billion.

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