Big European banks are set to report their first-quarter earnings starting next week and some investors fear that poor report cards could lead to further volatility in the stock markets.
Several analysts have raised concerns over earnings this quarter due to external challenges such as low economic growth, uncertainty over a U.S.-China trade deal, Brexit and a U-turn on major central bank policy toward more easing.
Daniel Morris, senior investment strategist at BNP Paribas, told CNBC Monday that results among European corporates in the fourth quarter of 2018 was weak.
“It was one of the lowest you had in a long time. We really didn’t notice because we were recovering from the end of December and you had the (Federal Reserve) and so on. Now, we have digested the Fed, I think we have priced in most of the (U.S.-China) trade deal so earnings are going to matter this time. And if we have such minimal beats over expectations, and of course as we know expectations are very low for this quarter, I think markets are not going to be happy with that,” Morris said.
uropean banks are suffering from years of weak profits, massive fines, ultra-low monetary policy and uncertainty surrounding the U.K.’s exit from the European Union. The U.S. banks, on the other hand, especially the big ones like J.P. Morgan and Citi have very strong retail operations that have kept them resilient in the face of economic headwinds.
CNBC takes a look at the big European banks that are set to report over the next two weeks and what’s been driving their strategy:
Credit Suisse is due to report on Wednesday, April 24.
According to data firm Refinitiv, Credit Suisse is expected to report a first-quarter net profit of 793.7 million Swiss francs, compared to 694 million Swiss francs reported in the first quarter of 2018. Looking at the whole of last year, the Swiss lender swung back to profit for the first time since 2014.
CEO Tidjane Thiam has led the bank’s turnaround strategy by improving the balance sheet, cutting down on bonuses as well as slashing headcount. In February, Thiam highlighted a number of external uncertainties weighing on the bank. These included the U.S. trade negotiations and Brexit that have led to “limited visibility” in the months ahead.
The bank’s stock is still down nearly 20% over a 12-month period and about 40% since Thiam took over as the CEO in 2015.
UBS is set to report its first-quarter earnings on Thursday, April 25.
According to data firm Refinitiv, it’s expected to report a first-quarter net profit of 856 million Swiss francs, compared to 1.5 billion Swiss francs reported in the first-quarter of 2018.
Last month, UBS chief Sergio Ermotti told CNBC that despite the rally in global equity markets, revenues in the first quarter of 2019 was one of the worst in recent years.
Noting especially tough conditions outside the United States, Ermotti said investment banking revenues were down about a third compared to the euphoric first quarter that kicked off 2018. Investment banking is a specific division of banking related to the creation of capital for other companies, governments and other entities.
The bank recently announced that it is cutting an extra $300 million from its 2019 costs after anticipating the fall in revenues. UBS shares are down more than 23% over a 12-month period.
British-bank Barclays is due to report its first-quarter numbers on Thursday, April 25.
According to data firm Refinitiv, Barclays is expected to report a first-quarter net profit of £875.6 million, compared to the heavy loss of £764 million reported in the first quarter of 2018.
The bank remains under pressure from its shareholders over its turnaround strategy. In February, U.S. hedge fund Tiger Global Management dumped all of its stake in Barclays. The New York-based hedge fund had been one of the top 10 investors in Barclays and held a 2.5% stake.
Barclays’ first-quarter numbers come at a time when the bank is also facing pressure from activist investor Edward Bramson forcing his way on to the board. Bramson’s Sherborne Investors holds a 5.5% stake in the bank.
According to Reuters, Bramson wants Barclays to reduce resources allocated to its investment units.
Barclays shares are down more than 21% over a 12-month period.
German lender Deutsche Bank will report first-quarter earnings on Friday, April 26.
According to data firm Refinitiv, Deutsche Bank is expected to report a first-quarter net profit of 130.5 million euros, compared to the 120 million euros reported in the first quarter of 2018.
Deutsche Bank has been in the news regularly in the past few months due to speculation over a merger with Commerzbank. The merger is seen to be heavily backed by the German government in a bid to create a strong national champion. A joint operation could have a balance sheet of nearly 2 trillion euros.
In the past few years, Deutsche Bank has made headlines for all the wrong reasons — from settlements with the U.S. Department of Justice, to management reshuffles, weak earnings, constant restructuring and steep stock price falls.
Last year, the bank posted its first full-year net profit since 2014 but shares are still down more than 35% over a 12-month period.
British-bank RBS is set to report first-quarter earnings on Friday, April 26.
An estimate for RBS’ first-quarter net income for 2019 wasn’t available from Refinitiv. However, the bank reported a net profit of £792 million in first quarter 2018.
The bank slightly beat expectations for full-year profit during its fourth-quarter numbers. However, it has been at the center of a long legal saga with the Department of Justice (DOJ) over its selling of toxic mortgages in the U.S. in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis. The lengthy settlement process had prevented the bank from providing dividends to its shareholders. In the summer of last year, the bank proposed its first dividend in 10 years.
RBS has continued to warn of ongoing economic and political uncertainty and a highly competitive mortgage market, along with uncertainty surrounding the U.K.’s exit from the European Union.
In the third quarter of 2018, the bank said it had set aside an impairment provision of £100 million to deal with economic uncertainties, including from the fallout of Brexit.
Shares of RBS are down nearly a percent over a 12-month period.
French lender BNP Paribas publishes first-quarter numbers on Thursday, May 2.
According to data firm Refinitiv, BNP Paribas is expected to report a first-quarter net profit of 1.8 billion euros, compared to the 1.5 billion euros reported in the first quarter of 2018.
The bank downgraded its 2020 targets during its fourth-quarter results in 2018. It said that the economic environment in Europe supported outstanding loans, despite low interest rates. However, it lowered its profitability and revenue growth targets for 2020 due to the impact from the market sell-off in the fourth quarter of 2018.
The French bank now hopes to achieve revenue growth of 1.5% per year between 2016 and 2020, down sharply from its previous 2.5% target.
Shares of BNP Paribas are down more than 23% over a 12-month period.
Another French lender, Societe Generale is due to report its first-quarter numbers on Friday, May 3.
An estimate for SocGen’s first-quarter net income for 2019 wasn’t available from Refinitiv. However, the bank reported a net profit of 850 million euros in the first quarter of 2018.
SocGen, France’s third-largest bank, announced earlier this month a plan to cut 1,600 jobs, mainly at its corporate and investment banking arm, in a bid to buoy profitability after last year’s poor performance.
The lender had announced it would cut 500 million euros ($563 million) in costs at its corporate and investment banking unit in early February after its fourth-quarter results were hit by a steep market downturn, which in turn forced it to lower both profitability and revenue growth targets.
Shares of SocGen are down more than 36% over a 12-month period.