Standard Chartered (SCBFF) stock surged to the top of the FTSE 100 Tuesday after it beat expectations for first-quarter earnings, suggesting that the turnaround of the bank is now gaining momentum.
The London-based bank, which generates the bulk of its earnings from emerging markets, reported income of $3.6 billion for the three months ending March 31, up 8% when compared with the previous year, and profit before tax of $1 billion. Profit before tax was up by 94% when compared with the same period one year ago and significantly ahead of the Factset (FDS) - Get Report consensus for $625 million.
"We are making good progress improving the performance of the Group. The significantly increased profit before tax results from particularly low loan impairment and our focus on cost control," said CEO Bill winter.
The bank's shares surged by nearly 5% in the immediate aftermath of the release, to trade at 759.0 pence, taking gains since the start of the year to more than 15% and marking a stark contrast to the 0.91% loss for the Stoxx Europe 600 Banks index.
Standard Chartered had left investors disappointed in February when it reported a larger than expected full year loss, driven by higher costs and restructuring charges, and failed to reinstate its dividend.
The bank ceased its dividend and announced an emergency rights issue and restructuring at the end of 2015 as, with China in meltdown mode, its commodity and emerging market exposure came back to bite it in the capital buffer.
Although the business has since stabilized analyst opinions on the stock remain mixed. Nearly half of the 19 analysts listed by Factset FDS as covering Standard Chartered have rated it as a sell in recent months, while only five have advocated buying it.
As an emerging market focused lender Standard Chartered has among the greatest exposure to India and its often ignored, but ever-entrenched, nonperforming loan problem.
Added to this are continued uncertainties over the outlook for the Chinese economy as well as the potential for trade disruptions given the rise of protectionist rhetoric seen coming out of Washington since the inauguration of President Donald Trump in January.