HSBC plc (HSBC)  shares fell hard in London Monday after the company posted solid third quarter earnings thanks to a renewed drive into key markets in Asia but cautioned that a previous return on equity target may be delayed until next year.

Europe's biggest bank said profits for the three months ending in September grew nearly fivefold to $4.6 billion, a figure that fell largely in-line with analysts' estimates and overwhelmingly driven by growth in Asia. However, the bank's aim for a return on equity of 10% for the full year likely won't be achieved until 2018 after hitting 8.2% for the first nine months.

"We maintained good momentum in the third quarter, with higher revenue in our three main global businesses. We also continued to make good progress with the strategic actions we set out in 2015," said outgoing CEO Stuart Gulliver. "Our international network continued to deliver strong growth in the third quarter, and our pivot to Asia is driving higher returns and lending growth, particularly in Hong Kong."

HSBC was marked 1% lower in London trading and changing hands at ended the Friday session at 741.30 pence each. So far this year, HSBC shares have gained around 13.3%, outpacing the 8.6% gain for the FTSE 350 Banks subindex.

Revenues for the period hit $13 billion on an adjusted basis, the bank said, although business acquisition costs are rising at a faster pace, creating what is known as "negative jaws" inside the bank's balance sheet. Overall capitalisation looked healthy by the end of September, however, with a core equity tier one ratio, a measure of balance sheet strength, coming in at 14.6%.

Earlier this month, the bank named Asia veteran John Flint as the successor to the retiring Gulliver, who will step down in February.

Flint, who currently runs the bank's retail and wealth management divisions, has been with HSBC for nearly 15 years and will be the second major change at the head of Europe's biggest lender following the appointment of Mark Tucker as chairman -- the first outsider to lead the bank in its 152-year history -- earlier this year.

HSBC is not only Europe's biggest bank, it's one of the largest lenders in the world with a balance sheet that tops $2.5 trillion. However, its seen profits fall sharply over the past four years and some investors have been calling for a new direction in leadership at the venerable lender.

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