February 20, 2019

StanChart reports profit surge as Winters’ restructuring takes hold

Standard Chartered has unveiled a 34 per cent rise in pretax profit for the six months to June and issued an interim dividend, as the Asia-focused bank continued to grow its revenue after years of restructuring.

However StanChart's share price fell 3.6 per cent on the back of the increasing cost of digitising the bank.

The figures

Pretax profit for the Asia-focused bank rose to $2.35bn (£1.79bn) in the first half of the year, from $1.75bn in the same period last year.

Its return on equity (ROE), an important measure of profitability, has risen to 6.7 per cent.

The lender issued an interim dividend of six cents a share on the back of improved financial performance and strong capital.

StanChart's retail banking income climbed nine per cent on strong performances in its Greater China and North Asia as well as ASEAN and South Asia divisions, mainly in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Operating expenses also rose seven per cent to $5.1bn as the group prioritised investment to improve the business.

Why it's interesting

StanChart has returned to profit growth over the past few quarters and reintroduced dividends this year, thanks to the turnround measures implemented by chief executive Bill Winters, which are finally taking root three years after he joined the bank.

This morning the bank hailed what it called a "significant improvement in profitability [reflecting] further progress on the path to higher returns"'.

Last month the bank said it planned to apply for a “virtual banking” licence in Hong Kong.

What StanChart said

Winters said: “The group performed steadily in the first half with encouraging progress on several fronts. Income from key areas of focus continues to grow strongly, we are investing in exciting new initiatives, and our strengthened risk discipline is paying off.

"Our return on equity improved to 6.7 per cent as a result, reinforcing our confidence that we will exceed 8 per cent in the medium term and underpinning the boards decision to resume the interim dividend”.

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