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LONDON (

TheStreet

) --

HSBC

(HBC)

, Europe's biggest bank, said pretax profits in 2010 more than doubled to $19.04 billion from $7.04 billion a year earlier, but the figure came in below analysts' estimates.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected HSBC to post pretax profits of around $20 billion.

HSBC said Monday that net profit in 2010 was $13.16 billion, up from $5.83 billion a year earlier. Loan impairment charges fell by $12.4 billion to $14 billion, the lowest since 2006.

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HSBC said it was "profitable in every customer group and region, including North America, for the first time since 2006."

HSBC, however, said it was reducing its target for return on equity to 12% to 15% from a previous target of 15% to 19% because "we believe that higher costs of the evolving regulatory framework will, all other things being equal, depress returns for shareholders of banks."

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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