Barclays Reports Improved Earnings; Expenses Still High

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Barclays ( BCS) on Wednesday reported relatively "clean" third-quarter results but the British bank's overall performance was still held back by extraordinary expenses tied to its "Transform" program.

Barclays reported third-quarter earnings of 728 million pounds (roughly $1.172 billion), improving from earnings of just 39 million pounds in the second quarter and a net loss of 13 million pounds during the third quarter of 2012. Results during the second quarter were lowered by a $1.350 billion pound provision for payment protection insurance (PPI) redress and another $650 million pound provision for redress of interest rate hedging products. The results for the third quarter of 2012 were lowered by a PPI redress provision of 700 million pounds and a negative "own credit" adjustment of $1.074 billion pounds.

The most recent quarter's results included a negative own credit adjustment of $211 million, while the second-quarter results included an own credit gain of $337 million.

But earnings were down on a pretax basis. Third-quarter profit before tax was 1.385 billion pounds, declining from 1.805 billion pounds the previous quarter and 1.865 billion pounds a year earlier. Trading revenue declined sharply, as expected by analysts. Third-quarter investment banking pretax profit declined to 463 million pounds in the third quarter from 1.074 billion pounds the previous quarter and 988 million pounds a year earlier.

Barclays reported an adjusted return on average equity of 7.1% for the first three quarters of 2013, declining from 9.7% a year earlier, "principally reflecting costs to achieve Transform." That's the name for the bank's program to reduce its net operating costs by 1.7 billion pounds by 2015. The company said that costs related to Transform during the first nine months of 2013 totaled 741 million pounds.

Like other large banks, Barclays has been working to reduce its risk-weighted assets (RWA) in order to lower exposure and boost regulatory capital ratios. The company's RWA declined by 16 billion pounds during the third quarter to 371 billion pounds. Its Basel III Tier 1 common equity ratio increased to 11.4% as of Sept. 30 from 11.1% in June. The company also estimated its liquidity coverage ratio was 107% as of Sept, 30, declining from 111% the previous quarter, but still in line with full Basel III requirements years ahead of full implementation of the new liquidity rules in January 2019.

Barclays followed UBS ( UBS) and Deutsche Bank ( DB) by saying it was cooperating with regulatory investigations of possible foreign exchange manipulation.

Barclays is also among large banks cooperating with the European Commission's EURIBOR investigation. It was the first bank to settle with regulators over the LIBOR investigations, agreeing in June 2012 to pay U.S. and European regulators $454 million. Soon after that settlement, the company's Chairman Marcus Agius and its CEO Bob Diamond both resigned.

Barclays CEO Antony Jenkins, in the company's earnings release Wednesday, said "all of our businesses are well positioned to take advantage of improvements in the global macro environment, as we manage the Group through a slow and gradual economic recovery."

Investors were pleased, sending Barclays' American depositary receipts up 1.8% in early Wednesday trading on the New York Stock Exchange to $17.43.

"Crucially as regards the balance sheet, the leverage exposure declined £78bn, of which £55bn looks seasonal," according to Jefferies analyst Joseph Dickerson. In a note to clients on Wednesday, the analyst wrote "the group has delivered £20bn of its £65-80bn asset reduction programme outlined at the time it announced its rights issue."

"We continue to regard the risk/reward of Barclays as attractive and reiterate our Buy recommendation," Dickerson wrote.


-- Written by Philip van Doorn in Jupiter, Fla.

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Philip W. van Doorn is a member of TheStreet's banking and finance team, commenting on industry and regulatory trends. He previously served as the senior analyst for Ratings, responsible for assigning financial strength ratings to banks and savings and loan institutions. Mr. van Doorn previously served as a loan operations officer at Riverside National Bank in Fort Pierce, Fla., and as a credit analyst at the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, where he monitored banks in New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico. Mr. van Doorn has additional experience in the mutual fund and computer software industries. He holds a bachelor of science in business administration from Long Island University.

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