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Investment banking helps Credit Suisse beat estimates

The national flag of Switzerland flies above the entrance to a Credit Suisse bank branch in Bern, Switzerland, May 20, 2014.
Philipp Schmidli | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Credit Suisse reported a 23 percent rise in net profit Tuesday, and managed to beat analysts' estimates with help from its investment banking operations and stellar flows into equity markets.

The Swiss banking giant said it logged earnings of 1.054 Swiss francs ($1.1 billion) in the January-March period, better than the 1.034 billion Swiss francs forecast in a Reuters poll.

Credit Suisse attributed the stronger earnings to market volatility, which boosted trading volume, its private banking business and investment banking unit. It comes after similar strength in the investment banking operations at its U.S. counterparts.

CEO Brady Dougan told CNBC that money flows continue to be strong into equities with some of the fixed income markets appearing to be "fairly toppy."

"There certainly are, sort of, a couple of big risks out there whether it's Greece, some of the other geopolitical issues, and ultimately the question of if and when interest rates go up," he said. "But the market does seem to continue to shrug them off."

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Credit Suisse, which has scaled back its investment banking unit, said it remains committed to achieving cost savings by 200 million Swiss francs by end 2017.

The earnings announcement is expected to be the last under the watch of Dougan, who is stepping down in June after 8 years at the helm, handing the reins over to Prudential boss Tidjane Thiam. Thiam will start in June this year.

"When I look at our record with clients, we've probably gained more assets on the private banking side than any other private bank over that period, which showed we've been a safe haven at a time where there was a lot of uncertainty in the markets," Dougan said on his tenure.

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Earlier this year, the bank detailed plans to cut costs in the wake of the Swiss central bank's decision to allow the currency to scrap its currency peg to the euro. The bank has also agreed to slash bonus payments to staff and has agreed to pay more than $2.5 billion in fines for helping U.S. citizens evade taxes.

- Reuters contributed to this report.