HSBC profits fall as bank’s spending outgrows revenue in Q1

Big 5

HSBC reported a rise in revenue but drop in profits for the first quarter of the year as expenses rose, and unveiled plans for a share buyback.

The bank’s stock fell almost 2 per cent in early trading after it announced it intends to buy up to $2bn (£1.5bn) of its own shares.

Revenue rose 6 per cent to $13.7bn, and the lender said growth was driven by higher deposit margins and balance growth in retail banking and wealth management in its commercial banking arm.

The lender reported operating expenses of $9.4bn, 13 per cent higher than the same period of last year, which it said reflected “investments to grow the business and enhance our digital capabilities, and the effects of currency translation”. Foreign exchange rates had an adverse effect of £500m on the bank’s spending.

With revenues more than offset by HSBC’s higher expenditure, pretax profit fell by 4 per cent to $4.8bn.

“Our global businesses performed well in the first quarter, maintaining momentum from the end of 2017,” said chief executive John Flint, who took over as the bank’s boss earlier this year.

“We continue to benefit from interest rate rises and economic growth, particularly in Asia. Our primary focus is to grow the businesses safely, and we have increased investment to deliver that aim.”

Mr Flint added that the bank intends to “deliver positive jaws for 2018”, a banking term that means HSBC is aiming to end the year with income growth exceeding spending