Barclays bank says profits slump in third quarter

9th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

British bank Barclays said Tuesday that underlying profits slumped 76 percent in the third quarter, hit by its poorly-performing investment unit and despite a sharp drop in bad debts.

Pre-tax earnings collapsed to 327 million pounds (379 million euros, 528 million dollars) in the three months to September, compared with 1.362 billion pounds in the same part of 2009.

However, the figure included a huge 947-million-pound charge against the rising value of the group's debts at its Barclays Capital investment division.

Under accounting rules, banks are able to book non-cash gains when the value of their debt falls, as they theoretically need less money to buy back their own debt. When markets recover, these gains are reversed into losses.

Excluding the impact of the one-off credit charge, the group's pre-tax profits increased by eight percent to 1.274 billion pounds, compared with 1.174 billion in the second quarter, aided by sliding charges for bad debts.

Impairment charges and other bad debt provisions fell to 1.22 billion pounds in the third quarter, down from 1.57 billion in the previous three months.

Despite the downbeat results, Barclays' share price rallied almost seven percent in afternoon London trading.

"Barclays rallied on reductions to its bad debts, despite lingering concerns over capital ratios," said City Index analyst Giles Watts.

And the bank added on Tuesday that "profit before tax improved ... with a decrease in profit at Barclays Capital more than offset by an increase across other businesses".

The lender, which survived the global financial crisis without state aid unlike many rivals, revealed that net profits eased to 2.480 billion pounds in the first nine months of the year, compared with 2.489 billion one year ago.

"Our income and profit performance was resilient for the first nine months of 2010 despite a subdued economic environment and moderate volumes," Barclays chief executive John Varley said in the earnings release.

"We continued to invest in a number of our businesses on a pay-as-you-go basis with a view to increasing future returns on equity.

"Our loan loss rate and overall impairment charge have improved further in the third quarter," added Varley, who will be replaced by Barclays Capital investment banking chief Bob Diamond in March.

Barclays Capital, meanwhile, saw its income plunge to 2.83 billion pounds in the third quarter, from 3.73 billion last time around, due to a sharp fall in business activity.

The lender also eased concerns that it would need extra capital to meet new Basel III international banking rules, which stipulate how much capital banks should hold in reserve and are designed to avert another financial crisis.

"Our capital, leverage and liquidity ratios remain strong. We are well-equipped to deal with regulatory change as Basel III is implemented between now and 2019," added Varley.

The lender's so-called Core Tier 1 ratio, a key industry capital measure, stood at 10 percent in September.

In a conference call to reporters, the bank's chief financial officer Chris Lucas repeated that the bank had no plans to ask shareholders for more capital.

- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this report -

© 2010 AFP

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