Commerzbank Aktiengesellschaft (CZB)
- Revenues of EUR2.16bn down year-on-year due to exceptional items and valuation effects (Q1 2018: EUR2.22bn); underlying revenues in client business slightly higher
- Operating expenses lower at EUR1,834m (Q1 2018: EUR1,882m) despite higher compulsory contributions
- Group operating profit at EUR244m (Q1 2018: EUR258m) - net result impacted by taxes and discontinued business at EUR120m (Q1 2018: EUR262m)
- Private and Small-Business Customers continues to grow with net 123,000 new customers and EUR402bn in Assets under Control in Germany (end of 2018: EUR381bn)
- Corporate Clients increases operating profit to EUR121m (Q1 2018: EUR98m); higher year-on-year revenues in Mittelstand and International Corporates
- Capital ratio of 12.7% (Q4 2018: 12.9%) reflects accounting effects due to introduction of IFRS 16 and dividend accrual
'We are addressing the right issues with our strategy', said Martin Zielke, Chairman of the Board of Managing Directors of Commerzbank. 'Our growth with customers and assets is enabling us to strengthen our revenue base thereby compensating the effects from low interest rates and margin pressure. We'll leverage the current momentum with our customers to further implement our strategy. With Campus 2.0 we will become ever more efficient. And of course we will continue to work on our profitability.'
Group revenues came to EUR2,156 million in the first quarter of 2019, after EUR2,217 million in Q1 2018 which had profited from exceptional items and valuation effects. Underlying revenues totalled EUR2,190 million and were slightly down on the previous year (Q1 2018: EUR2,216 million). Underlying revenues in the client segments, Private and Small Business Customers and Corporate Clients, registered a slight year-on-year increase.
Operating expenses were down to EUR1,834 million and in line with full-year expectations (Q1 2018: EUR1,882 million), despite an increase in compulsory contributions. At EUR265 million compulsory contributions were nearly 10% higher than in the first quarter of 2018 (Q1 2018: EUR244 million). This increase was attributable to the bank levies which need to be booked in the first quarter and was overcompensated by continued cost management and staff reductions. The Bank continued with its strategic investments in digitalisation and growth using fewer external suppliers, as announced. Overall, operating expenses were cut to EUR1,569 million (Q1 2018: EUR1,638 million).
The risk result remained low in the first quarter, at minus EUR78 million (Q1 2018: minus EUR77 million). It benefited from lower loan losses, which even offset the effect of write-backs of loan loss provisions in the previous year. The non-performing loan (NPL) ratio remained very low, at 0.9% (Q1 2018: 1.0%). It reflects the still favourable credit environment, as well as the Bank's prudent lending standards and high portfolio quality.
The operating profit came to EUR244 million, supported by a 12% increase in net interest income (Q1 2018: EUR258 million). The pre-tax profit declined year on year to EUR225 million (Q1 2018: EUR301 million). The net result attributable to Commerzbank shareholders amounted to EUR120 million (Q1 2018: EUR262 million). The reason was a higher tax burden of about EUR90 million. In the previous year, tax refunds had a positive impact. Additionally, the tax ratio rose as a result of higher compulsory contributions which are largely non-tax deductible. The net result was also impacted by the year-on-year EUR60 million weaker performance of the discontinued Equity Markets and Commodities business. Earnings per share came in at EUR0.10 in the first quarter (Q1 2018: EUR0.21).
The Common Equity Tier 1 ratio (CET 1) stood at 12.7% at the end of March (end of December 2018: 12.9%; March 2018: 13.3%). This reflects the effects of the introduction of the international accounting standard IFRS 16 at the start of the year, which, as expected, resulted in a deduction of 16 basis points. The ratio already includes an accrual for the planned dividend in line with the 2018 pay-out ratio.
'Business with our clients remains on a positive track. Even in a very competitive environment, Q1 is proof of the resilience of our corporate clients business and an example of what is possible. The challenge now is to build on this progress', said Stephan Engels, Chief Financial Officer of Commerzbank. 'We are continuing to implement cost reductions despite further increases in compulsory contributions and ongoing strategic investments. Our cost targets remain unchanged.'
First-quarter revenues after adjustment for exceptional items stood at EUR1,220 million (Q1 2018: EUR1,211 million). Operating expenses were trimmed by EUR17 million to EUR870 million, while charges arising from compulsory contributions climbed by EUR29 million. The risk result remained virtually stable at minus EUR52 million (Q1 2018: minus EUR49 million). Overall, the segment generated an operating profit of EUR153 million in the first quarter (Q1 2018: EUR203 million). In the first quarter of 2018 the profit had been supported by a non-recurring item of EUR52 million from the sale of the Polish group insurance business.
The Corporate Clients segment gained 800 new clients since the start of the year, bringing the total number of new clients gained since the start of 2016 to 9,700. With prudent lending standards still in place, the corporate loan book expanded by EUR2 billion compared to the fourth quarter of 2018 to EUR84 billion.
On the back of this growth in lending, net interest income rose by 12% versus the first quarter of 2018, which contributed to stable revenues of EUR861 million (Q1 2018: EUR864 million). The contribution from the Mittelstand and International Corporates divisions increased compared to the first quarter of 2018. After the successful realignment of the segment, the core products loans, cash management, trade finance, and capital market solutions all showed an improvement on the previous year. This means all of the divisions' core products made a positive contribution to the revenue performance. The Financial Institutions division recorded stable revenues year-on-year after its realignment despite weakening global trade activities. This shows that the investments for compliance over the previous years are paying off. Overall, Corporate Clients' underlying revenues came to EUR869 million (Q1 2018: EUR865 million).
The segment cut its operating expenses excluding compulsory contributions by a good 3% to EUR619 million (Q1 2018: EUR642 million). Thanks to the continued high quality of the loan book, the risk result remained low in the first quarter of 2019 at minus EUR28 million (Q1 2018: minus EUR25 million). Corporate Clients improved its operating profit, in a still challenging environment, to EUR121 million (Q1 2018: EUR98 million).
In the Asset & Capital Recovery (ACR) segment, revenues fell to EUR11 million (Q1 2018: EUR45 million) in line with the further run-down of legacy portfolios which were reduced by a total of EUR300 million in the first quarter. The Group ship finance portfolio contracted to a volume of around EUR300 million, and by the end of March comprised only 38 financed ships. The segment's operating profit amounted to minus EUR7 million (Q1 2018: EUR16 million).
The Bank will continue its growth strategy in 2019 and is expecting higher underlying revenues than in the previous year. It is targeting a Common Equity Tier 1 ratio of at least 12.75% by the end of 2019. The cost base should remain below EUR6.8 billion in 2019, while the drag from the risk result is expected to be at least EUR550 million. The Bank is planning to maintain a pay-out ratio for financial year 2019 at a level comparable to 2018.
* Net income from financial assets and liabilities measured at fair value through profit and loss.
From approximately 7 am onwards you can find broadcast-ready video material with a statement by Stephan Engels at http://mediathek.commerzbank.de/.
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