Commerzbank swings back to a net profit and beats market expectations

  • Net profit up from a year ago to 272 million euros ($314.34 million) from a loss of 640 million euros.
  • Commerzbank also reported slightly higher operating expenses partially due to extra regulatory costs and investments in the business.

German lender Commerzbank beat market expectations Tuesday with profits for the second period of the year coming in at 272 million euros ($314.34 million).

It reported a net income of 1.16 billion euros for the quarter and promised to resume dividend payments in the current fiscal year. The bank also reported slightly higher operating expenses in the same period, partially due to extra regulatory costs and investments in the business. The level of costs stood at 1.75 billion euros, compared to 1.72 billion euros a year ago.

"Our cost target of 6.5 billion euros ($7.51 billion) for 2020 remains unchanged. In view of investment activities, regulatory contributions and project costs, we have slightly adjusted our cost target for the full year 2018 to 7.1 billion euros ($8.21 billion)," Stephan Engels, the chief financial officer of Commerzbank, said in a statement.

Here are some of the key highlights for the second quarter:

  • Revenues up from a year ago to 2.22 billion euros ($2.57 billion) from 2.06 billion euros last year.
  • Net profit up from a year ago to 272 million euros ($314.34 million) from a loss of 640 million euros. A Reuters poll predicted an estimate of 227 million euros.
  • Common equity tier 1 ratio down to 13 percent at the end of June, from 13.3 percent at the end of the first quarter of 2018.

Commerzbank expects higher revenues at the group level supported by its private and small business unit. Therefore, it repeated a promise made in the first quarter — to resume dividend payments in the current fiscal year of 20 cents per share.

The bank announced in early July it had agreed to sell its equity markets and commodities business to Societe Generale. The lender said in its interim report Tuesday that the transfer of the trading books and the corresponding balance sheet and income will be done in stages, with the first step expected at the end of this year.

"It is therefore likely that EMC (equity markets and commodities) revenue will cease to appear in the income statement over the course of 2019. The reduction in expenses associated with EMC should remove at least 200 million euros from the Commerzbank cost base by the end of 202," Commerzbank said in the report.

The Commerzbank AG logo sits on an illuminated sign outside a bank branch as the bank's headquarters stand beyond at dusk in Frankfurt, Germany, on Monday, Feb. 5, 2017. 
Alex Kraus | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The Commerzbank AG logo sits on an illuminated sign outside a bank branch as the bank's headquarters stand beyond at dusk in Frankfurt, Germany, on Monday, Feb. 5, 2017. 

Shares of Commerzbank fell on the results, trading about 2 percent lower in lunchtime deals.

Citigroup said in a note that investors are probably disappointed with the revised cost guidance, "as this is the main element in (the) management's control," though expectations were "already incredibly low for Commerzbank."