French bank SocGen posts profit beat but cuts 2020 targets

  • Group profits hit 3.86 billion euros ($4.43 billion) for 2018, close to an analyst forecast of 3.85 billion euros from Reuters.
  • This was a 37 percent increase from its 2017 full-year profits which came in at 2.8 billion euros.
  • Shares fell 1 percent as markets opened in Europe on Thursday.

Societe Generale posted full-year net profits that narrowly beat estimates on Thursday, but also revised down its profitability targets for 2020.

Group profits hit 3.86 billion euros ($4.43 billion) for 2018, close to an analyst forecast of 3.85 billion euros from Reuters. This was a 37 percent increase from its 2017 full-year profits which came in at 2.8 billion euros. Shares fell 1 percent as markets opened in Europe on Thursday.

The French lender's fourth-quarter net profit jumped to 624 million euros, compared to 69 million euros for the same period last year. Speaking to CNBC, Severin Cabannes, the deputy chief executive officer at the bank, said that 2018 was a "mixed year."

"In 2018, we have been in a position to deliver growth ... Slight growth despite this challenging environment," he told CNBC's Julianna Tatelbaum. "The outcome of this quarter for Societe Generale is not very good but it is better than the European average peers."

Societe Generale SA headquarters in Paris, France.
Balint Porneczi | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Societe Generale SA headquarters in Paris, France.

Revised 2020 targets

The French bank updated its 2020 profitability targets and now expects a return on tangible equity between 9 and 10 percent for the group, down from a previous estimate of 11.5 percent.

Cabannes told CNBC that the revision in numbers was due to three main factors: A lower-than-expected interest rate environment in Europe, a challenging global environment and capital requirements.

"Today we have revisited our assumption mainly on the interest rate curve … Today, with the ECB (European Central Bank) policy and position, we consider that we will remain in negative territory on the short-term interest rate and then this has an impact in 2020 where we think interest rates will start to rise in Europe," he said.