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    HSBA   GB0005405286


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HSBC : doubles profit, hints at share buybacks as bad loan fears ease

08/02/2021 | 05:32am EDT
FILE PHOTO: A man walks past an HSBC bank branch in the City of London

HONG KONG/LONDON (Reuters) - HSBC Holdings beat forecasts on Monday with first-half pretax profit that more than doubled from last year when it set aside $7 billion to cover pandemic-related bad loans.

Encouraged by an economic rebound in its two biggest markets of Hong Kong and Britain, HSBC reinstated dividend payments, flagged higher payouts in the future, and released $700 million that had been set aside as provisions. It also said share buybacks were under review as an option after ruling them out earlier this year.

Like rivals, Europe's biggest bank is benefiting from better-than-hoped for resilience on the part of companies grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. That said, a decline in revenue underscored longer-term challenges.

HSBC reported pretax profit of $10.8 billion, higher than the $4.32 billion in the same period a year earlier and a consensus estimate of $9.45 billion compiled by the bank.

Revenue fell 4% due to a low interest rate environment especially in Asia, where it makes most of its money, and a weaker performance from its investment bank compared to a strong first half last year.

Growth should come from managing more wealthy customers' money and shifting investment banking resources from Europe and the United States to Asia, Chief Executive Noel Quinn told Reuters.

"We're still in the early days of the economic rebound, we need to see all those numbers become the trend for the future, we are encouraged but there is more still to go," he said.

Quinn said he did not expect any decline in investment appetite for China after regulatory crackdowns have upended norms for the country's tech, property and private tutoring sectors, leaving some overseas investors bruised and uncertain.

"We see strong liquidity seeking investment opportunities in Hong Kong and Asia," he said.

In a separate call with analysts, Quinn also said HSBC was targeting bolt-on acquisitions in Asia outside China to expand its wealth management business, adding the bank was "looking at three or four as we speak" in areas including insurance and asset management.

HSBC's shares rose 0.7% in London, in line with a 0.9% gain in the benchmark FTSE index.


Unlike its competitors, HSBC has failed to benefit from a frenzy in stock listings and tech company fundraisings after opting not to join the current boom in special purpose acquisition company (SPACs) listings.

"It has been a very conscious decision to stay away from SPACs because that sector runs an elevated risk of litigation," Chief Financial Officer Ewen Stevenson told Reuters.

Revenue for HSBC's investment bank slid 23% in the second quarter against the same period a year ago at a time when Wall Street banks and U.S.-focused rivals such as Barclays have seen strong performances.

The bank also saw pretax profit from Asia declining 6%, a drop Stevenson said was "almost entirely driven by the reduction in interest rates". Both longer and shorter term Hibors, the benchmark lending rates in Hong Kong, were near 10-year lows for much of the quarter.

On a more positive note, HSBC said given the brighter outlook globally as economies recover faster than expected from the pandemic, it expects credit losses to be below its medium-term forecast of 0.3%-0.4% of its loans.

It said that for the year, it might be able to make a net release of funds from earlier provisions rather than add to them, but it was hard to give a definite view due to the unknown impact of government support programmes, vaccine rollouts and new strains of the virus.

It also said it would move to within its target payout range of 40-55% of reported earnings per share within 2021.

HSBC plans to pay an interim dividend of seven cents a share after the Bank of England scrapped payout curbs last month. That compares with its interim dividend of $0.31 per share in pre-pandemic 2019.

(Reporting by Alun John in Hong Kong and Lawrence White in London; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

By Alun John and Lawrence White

© Reuters 2021
Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
BARCLAYS PLC 1.58% 182.7 Delayed Quote.22.62%
HSBC HOLDINGS PLC -0.95% 368.9 Delayed Quote.-1.69%
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Financials (USD)
Sales 2021 50 214 M - -
Net income 2021 10 846 M - -
Net Debt 2021 - - -
P/E ratio 2021 10,0x
Yield 2021 4,50%
Capitalization 104 B 104 B -
Capi. / Sales 2021 2,08x
Capi. / Sales 2022 2,01x
Nbr of Employees 222 550
Free-Float 98,2%
Duration : Period :
HSBC Holdings plc Technical Analysis Chart | MarketScreener
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Technical analysis trends HSBC HOLDINGS PLC
Short TermMid-TermLong Term
Income Statement Evolution
Mean consensus OUTPERFORM
Number of Analysts 24
Last Close Price 5,16 $
Average target price 6,63 $
Spread / Average Target 28,6%
EPS Revisions
Managers and Directors
Noel Paul Quinn Group Chief Executive Officer & Executive Director
Ewen James Stevenson Chief Financial Officer & Executive Director
Mark Edward Tucker Non-Executive Group Chairman
Steven C. van Wyk Chief Information Officer
John M. Hinshaw Group Chief Operating Officer
Sector and Competitors