LONDON, (AFP) — Europe’s largest bank HSBC announced surging annual net profits of almost $17 billion on Monday as growth in Asia and other emerging markets offset eurozone debt losses and costs linked to the London-headquartered bank’s US exit.
Profit after tax jumped by 28 percent to $16.8 billion (£10.6 billion) in 2011 compared with the previous year when it had stood at $13.2 billion, HSBC said in a statement.
“2011 was a year of major progress for HSBC,” the Asia-focused bank’s chief executive Stuart Gulliver said in the release.
“We gained traction in our strategy designed to simplify the structure and improve the management and control of the group, thereby improving returns and positioning HSBC for growth.
“We recorded a strong performance in faster-growing markets and had a record year in commercial banking. I am pleased with our progress but there is a lot more to do and we remain focused on delivering our targets.”
Founded in Hong Kong and Shanghai in 1865, HSBC last year announced massive cost-cutting measures, including plans to save up to $3.5 billion by 2013 and to axe 30,000 jobs globally.
HSBC added on Monday that group pre-tax profits climbed 15 percent to $21.9 billion last year, in line with analyst forecasts.
“In 2011 in our heartland of Asia, throughout the Middle East and in Latin America we made good progress in developing customer business in line with the risk appetite endorsed by the board,” the bank said.
“In Europe and the US we concentrated on supporting our core customer base, targeting trade services while constraining risk appetite within the financial sector. We also made significant further progress in working down our exit businesses in the US.”
HSBC said that total bad debt charges stood at $12.1 billion in 2011, down nearly 14 percent compared with the previous year.
“Our results continue to be adversely affected by the losses in the US consumer finance business, which, on an underlying basis, were $2.4 billion … in 2011,” the bank added.
HSBC noted that its core tier one ratio, or buffer against future financial crises, fell to 10.1 percent from 10.5 percent but remained well above the 9.0 percent level requested by the EU’s banking regulator by June of this year.
The bank’s share price was down 1.0 percent at 508.7 pence on London’s falling FTSE 100 index following the results update.
The bank’s total dividend payout for 2011 reached $7.3 billion, up 14 percent compared with a year earlier.
“Overall, HSBC is still a safe pair of hands in investment terms,” said Richard J Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers.
“Even though a couple of the key metrics (in the annual results) are flashing amber, on the whole HSBC has again demonstrated its financial firepower.
“In particular, its geographical diversification has paid dividends, particularly in its exposure to the likes of China, India and Brazil.
“In addition, the commercial banking unit has reported a record profit year, whilst the capital cushion, although down, and general cash generation has enabled the group to increase its dividend by 14 percent over the course of 2011,” Hunter added.