UBS net profit soars 88%, beating forecasts

World still a dangerous place: UBS CFO
World still a dangerous place: UBS CFO   

Swiss banking giant UBS reported a surge in profit on Tuesday, beating analysts' forecasts, as market volatility and strong client activity boosted earnings in the first quarter of 2015.

The lender said it had navigated the extraordinary challenges of the period, which included the Swiss National Bank's shock decision to unpeg its currency from the euro.

Net profit came in at 1.98 billion Swiss francs ($2.12 billion), up from 1.05 billion francs from the year-ago period, and nearly double a Reuters forecast of 1.1 billion francs. Shares were trading higher by 6 percent during the morning session on Tuesday.

UBS
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Tom Naratil, the bank's chief financial officer, told CNBC Tuesday that it was hard to analyze whether the strong first quarter would continue throughout the year, but said that it was a "really good start."

"It's a solid start, a strong quarter. We're pleased to see all of our businesses performing well in the quarter," he said.

"I think this really highlights the advantages of defining your strategy early, of having a clear strategy and also of executing with discipline across all of our business lines."

UBS' wealth management business delivered its highest profits since 2008, the bank said in the release Tuesday morning, and the global asset management division posted its best quarter since 2009.

UBS warned that many of the underlying macroeconomic challenges seen in the first quarter of 2015 were still present and were unlikely to be resolved in the foreseeable future.

However, it said that it expected its wealth management businesses to continue to attract new deposits in the second quarter.

"Despite ongoing and new challenges, we continue to be committed to the disciplined execution of our strategy in order to ensure the firm's long-term success and to deliver sustainable returns for our shareholders," the bank said in a press release.

Outlook and litigation

UBS also said that it was still involved in various disputes and legal proceedings, including regulatory and criminal investigations.

It highlighted that it could also be subject to further fines due to the possible manipulation of the foreign exchange markets. The bank added that it was in discussions with several investigating authorities about possible terms of a resolution for their investigations, and that talks with the U.S. Department of Justice had reached an "advanced stage."

"Other investigating authorities may seek to conclude potential resolutions in the near future," UBS said on the alleged forex manipulation. "We believe that our provisions in relation to these matters are adequate to meet the anticipated financial terms of such resolutions."

UBS has already paid a total of approximately 774 million Swiss francs to authorities in connection with foreign exchange investigations.

The bank also said its capital strength was a key element to its success, and that it had a Basel III common equity tier 1 ratio - how much money the bank holds compared to its assets - of 13.7 percent at the end of March.

CNBC's Carolin Roth contributed to this article.