As profits dwindle, HSBC plans a radical overhaul

WHEN NOEL QUINN took over as interim chief executive of HSBC from John Flint, ousted by the board in August, analysts expected a change in style. Whereas Mr Flint was seen as a cerebral introvert, Mr Quinn is forthcoming, verging on blunt.

On that front, at least, HSBC’s first quarterly-results announcement on his watch did not disappoint. Although its Asian business “held up well in a challenging environment”, performance in other areas was “not acceptable”, Mr Quinn said on October 28th. Third-quarter net profits, down by 24% on the same period last year, to $3bn, undershot pundits’ forecasts by 14%. Revenues fell by 3.2%, to $13.4bn, missing expectations by 3%. Return on tangible equity (ROTE), its chief measure of profitability, reached 6.4%, compared with analysts’ forecast of 9.5%. Investors agreed with Mr Quinn: the bank’s shares dropped by 4.3% on the news in London. They have fallen by about 11% in the past six months.

HSBC’s woes can be blamed in part on broader conditions: low interest rates, a slowing global economy, business uncertainty in Brexit-hit Britain and trade tensions (HSBC is the world’s largest provider of trade finance). Yet that is hardly likely to reassure investors. Tom Rayner of Numis Securities, a broker, points out that although some of these trends may be reversed, others, such as Brexit...

via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

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