HSBC's return on ordinary shareholders' equity was 12% during the first half, increasing from 10.5% a year earlier.
The company said its Basel III Tier 1 common equity ratio was 10.1% as of June 30, leaving it "well positioned with respect to the implementation of Basel III capital standards."
HSBC's shares closed at $57.97 Friday, returning 12% this year, following a 46% return during 2012. The shares trade for 11.9 times the consensus 2014 earnings estimate of $4.87 a share, among analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. The consensus 2013 EPS estimate is $6.10.
Despite the company's success in growing earnings while lowering expenses, Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Alistair Scarff on Monday reiterated his neutral rating on HSBC in a note to clients.
"There is nothing we can see in [the latest financial report] that undermines the strategic goals of underlying business growth, cost containment and a strong balance sheet," Scarff wrote. "However, we believe the 1H 13 results do highlight that HSBC is a long-dated stock: margins are still falling; overall volumes are not yet growing rapidly enough to deliver stable Net Interest Income. Cost reductions are hard-won and impairment declines not linear."
According to Nomura analyst Chintan Joshi, HSBC's "clean" profit before taxes was $12.8 billion for the first HALF OF 2013, shy his firm's estimate of $12.9 billion. Joshi rates HSBC a "buy."
"HSBC's story is driven by costs and capital in an environment of Asian macroeconomic headwinds," Joshi wrote in a note to clients on Monday. "On a clean basis, costs are developing better than consensus expectations, giving the company operating leverage when revenue trends improve."
"We see the group on track for a high 50s payout ratio for the coming few years," Joshi wrote, while estimating HSBC would achieve a Strong Basel III Tier 1 common equity ratio of 11.5% by 2015.
-- Written by Philip van Doorn in Jupiter, Fla.