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Home / Special Reports / UK Banks Reporting Q1 Results

This report is not a personal recommendation and does not take into account your personal circumstances or appetite for risk.

13 April 2018

UK Banks Reporting Q1 Results

Outlook is key

We are just days away from learning how one of the UK’s most important sectors fared in terms of financial performance in the three months to end-March (Q1). More importantly, we’ll find out how their key “outlook” statements stack up versus investor expectations for the rest of 2018.

Banks are an important barometer of growth given they grease the wheels of the economy, providing financing and a home for money. How much growth they report offers a gauge of business and consumer confidence, which can influence investor sentiment and – key for us - share prices.

Well off their Brexit vote share price lows of June 2016, the sector has staged an impressive recovery (+55%), even if off their best levels of early 2018, caught up in the recent market correction. Might Q1 results be the catalyst for the shares to turn north?

This preview looks at the drivers/trends in play for the UK banks, what their share price charts look like, how US Banks are influencing, and what to look out for in next week’s first quarter updates.

With an average 3-6% share price range for sector constituents reporting quarterly results since 2012, will we get the same, or better? Could you trade the early 8am response to results? What about the traditional rally in the run-up to results?

Banking Central

The last year or so has already been beneficial for financials. Not just with stock markets rallying on hopes of US stimulus and deregulation. Central Banks have also played their part, tightening policy/raising interest rates, which boosts banks’ profitability by allowing them to charge more for what they lend versus what they pay for funds held on deposit (Net Interest Margin – NIM).

The US Federal Reserve (Fed) continues to increase US interest rates, normalising policy in response to an ever-improving US economy.

The European Central Bank (ECB) has already begun tapering its bond-buying stimulus programme and recently offered more hawkish/less dovish outlook, suggesting the Eurozone economy is still gradually improving, needing less help.

Whilst US rates are important for international banks the Bank of England’s stance is also important for domestic UK activity. Expectations are for a UK interest rate rise in May to counter persistently above-target inflation since the UK referendum weakened GBP Sterling.

This would mean a welcome profitability boost for our quartet of listed UK high street banks. In fact, only recently (21 Mar), analysts at Barclays suggested Lloyds and RBS’ future NIMs could beat expectations by retaining more benefit from rising interest rates than markets currently assume, with a low deposit beta meaning less interest rate rise benefit passed on to savers versus that imposed on borrowers.

Access all areas?

Whilst there is still a significant element of Brexit uncertainty, things have calmed. GBP continues to strengthen, suggesting optimism that the ultimate exit deal from the EU won’t prove too detrimental to UK companies, including the banks.

Given the importance of London to many European financial institutions, it is likely that a work-around is arrived at to ensure that UK financial institutions retain access to continental markets. What the deal ultimately looks like, though, remains to be seen, with politicians on both sides still playing hokey-cokey in terms of red lines and concessions.

Although the impact on UK banks is an unknown (domestic focused likely less sensitive than more international exposed), if the UK were to lose access to the continent it would surely imply reduced profitability and thus hurt share prices.

With a year to go until the Brexit transition period begins, will the big banks’ management outlook statement have anything to say about their plans and how they view the situation as it stands?

What to expect from next week’s results?

Analysts at Deutsche Bank expect margin pressure to remain the focus for UK domestic lenders in Q1 updates, with a still highly competitive UK mortgage market (Lloyds Banking has the largest UK mortgage book, so could be most exposed).

As for the lenders with more international exposure, Deutsche expects currency swing to benefit Q1 dollar revenues but are wary of cost inflation at both HSBC and Standard Chartered.

Deutsche analysts remain overweight of UK domestic banks (LLOY, RBS), neutral on internationals (BARC, STAN, HSBC) and underweight Challengers (e.g. Metro, CYBG, Virgin) – [Source Proactive Investors, 11 April 2018]

Stateside affairs

In terms of US banks, JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup have all reported consensus beating Q1 results today (Friday), all three’s share trading higher.

Citigroup (revenues +3%, profits +13%) benefited from lower tax and strong equity trading (revenues +38%) on increased market volatility, consumer banking (+7%) saw growth across all regions, although bond trading (-7%) disappointed.

JPMorgan posted a record Q1 profits (+35%) with solid revenues growth across its main divisions (Consumer, Investment Banking, Commercial, Asset Management), and a profit boost from accounting changes.

Peers Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs follow up next week on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. Can they keep the sector flag flying before their UK counterparts take the baton?

Dates for your diary

Given the importance of the sector, in terms of outlook and read-across, it’s no surprise to have all four of the major UK high street banks reporting the same week. Be prepared for share price reactions to both each bank’s own results and those of its peers across.

Lloyds kicks off proceedings with Q1 results on Weds 25 April, followed by Barclays on Thurs 26, Royal Bank of Scotland on Fri 27 and HSBC closing the season a week later on Fri 4 May. Not a UK high street bank, but listed on the FTSE, peer Standard Chartered reports on Weds 2 May.

Next we analyse the reaction to major UK banks’ FY results updates, including the performance of shares in the following days and weeks, and preview the major talking points of their pending Q1 update.

Page: 01

Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY)                                                                                    Q1 Results: 25 April

Lloyds shares jumped almost 4% in response to full year results on 21 Feb as shareholders welcomed news of higher profits, a 20% increase to the full year dividend and a £1bn share buyback. An annual dividend yield >5% means the shares are now highly attractive to income seekers, especially given the prospect of further profit increases leading to even higher dividends and capital returns.

PPI may not yet be water-under-the-bridge but the scale of provisions has fallen markedly, FY results not including any big surprise since the Q3 results in October. That said, an August 2019 deadline for claims does mean potential for a spike in claims as people rush to seek redress for historic mis-selling of payment protection insurance before time runs out.

It would have been possible to maximise potential returns from Lloyds’ post-results rally using a CFD. With the shares climbing as high as 3.7% on results day, if you had opened a £10,000 long position at 67.5p the prior day using a £500 deposit, closing the trade just below the results day peak of 70.4p, you could have made a circa £400 profit (80% return on £500 deposit) before commission and overnight financing costs. Note: If the shares had fallen to the same degree, you would have incurred an equal and opposite loss

Barclays (BARC)                                                                                                               Q1 Results:26 April

Barclays shares rose over 6.4% when it reported FY results on 22 Feb, with investors focusing on a pledge to double the dividend rather than the bank having swung to a full year loss, the key investment banking division suffering from weak trading performance, further litigation costs, a charge related to US tax reforms and the sale of its Africa operations.

Investors were perhaps relieved to hear that the return of market volatility was already helping trading in the first few months of the year, a trend that should have continued (US banks results so far suggest this to be the case), which bodes well for the pending Q1 results of UK banks, especially Barclays.

Brokers like Investec suggest (Source: Dow Jones, 22 Feb) the bank’s recovery is likely to accelerate even in the wake of a messy set of FY results, helped by a clearing of clouds including the recent settlement with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) regarding mis-selling of Retail Mortgage Backed Securities (RMBS) before the financial crisis – as well as outstanding investigations into emergency fundraising and internal attempts to discover a whistle-blower.

Had you bought Barclays shares at 201p the day before FY results on 22 Feb - using CFDs to maximise your potential returns, opening a £10,000 long position using just a £500 deposit - you could have closed the position the next day at anywhere between 208p and 215p. The share price rise of between 3% and 7% could have generated returns of £340-690 (before commission and overnight financing costs) implying a return of 68-138% on your £500 deposit. Note: If the shares had fallen to the same degree, you would have incurred an equal and opposite loss

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS)                                                                                     Q1 Results:27 April

Unlike Barclays, RBS still has to settle with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) for its own conduct issues. It may well have posted its first full year profit since being bailed out a decade ago, but the overhang from litigation risk proved too much for investors and the shares closed lower for the day. With profitability not quite sustainable to allow for dividends just yet, and dividends having to come before share buybacks, the only real catalyst comes from progress in terms of agreeing to pay up and allow everybody to move on.

You could have elected to buy RBS shares 10-days before last April’s Q1 results (27 Apr) - using CFDs to maximise potential returns from a pre-results rally. This often happens, with traders/investors speculating on the possibility of a good set of results and favourable share price reaction. You could have taken a £10,000 long position with a £500 deposit at 229p, and closed out at 252p making the most of the 10.9% rally, standing to make over £1000, before factoring in commission and overnight financing costs, essentially doubling your £500 deposit. Note: If the shares had fallen to the same degree, you would have incurred an equal and opposite loss

HSBC (HSBA)                                                                                                                     Q1 Results: 4 May

HSBC shares also closed lower in response to February’s Full year results, due to pre-tax profits coming in below market consensus, bad loans (Steinhoff, Carillion) weighing on profits, the bank announcing a $5-7bn capital raising to bolster the balance sheet, but no mention of more share buybacks. The latter was a disappointment given that expectations were for as much as another $3bn.

It was also the last set of results under 7yr CEO Stuart Gulliver (retired), which represents risk in terms of a new man at the wheel (John Flint). Can he maintain the recovery from 2012 lows when the shares were hit by major conduct issues and scandals which hurt the bank for a while.

CFDs could have been used to maximise potential returns from the 10-day run-up to FY results on Feb 19 with a £10,000 long position, opened at 730p, using a £500 deposit, and closed at 760p delivering a 3.8% return or £410 versus your £500 deposit (82% return), before commission and overnight financing costs. Note: If the shares had fallen to the same degree, you would have incurred an equal and opposite loss

Over the page, we look at the technicals for our UK banks.

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Page: 02

Barclays (BARC)

Barclays is one of the most US-exposed of the UK-listed Banks, and the only one in an uptrend for 2018, helped by it recently settling with the US DoJ for historical mis-selling. On the one hand this removes the biggest cloud hanging over the shares, although others remain. On the other hand, it means Q1 results will include a big exceptional charge. However, the bank can now move on after years of uncertainty, improve its profitability and restore the dividend to historical levels. Might it consider share buybacks too, to entice investors? How will the key investment banking division (previously the generator of >70% of group’s profits) have fared?

Share currently testing recent highs and decade long falling resistance. Could a breakout be imminent, overcoming a major hurdle to allow for a 10% rally back to 2017 highs?

Will Barclays break out to 2017 highs of 244p (+12%) or fall back to 2017 lows of 177p (-19%)?

  • Rising channel of sorts since late 2017; Falling highs resistance since Feb 2007
  • Can the shares maintain their up-channel to break beyond major resistance?
  • Brokers are positively biased (88% Buy/Hold), with >70% of broker targets above the current price.
  • 5% average results day trading range since 2012 (4.8% for Q1 updates too).
  • In the 10-day run-up to FY results in Feb and Q1 results last April, BARC shares rallied around 5%

Broker Consensus: 46% Buy, 42% Hold, 12% Sell

Bullish: AlphaValue, Buy, Target 258p, +18% (5 Apr 18)

Average Target: 221p, +1% (13 Apr 18)

Bearish: Mediobanca, Underperform, Target 190p, -13% (5 Apr 18)

Pricing data sourced from Bloomberg on 13 April 2018. Please contact us for a full, up to date rundown.

Page: 03

HSBC (HSBA)

HSBC is the most globally exposed UK Bank, with a focus on its home territory of Asia. The bank has a range of operations, including retail and investment banking divisions as well as a major foreign exchange department. Although the bank is headquartered in London, it has locations on every continent, which means it can be influenced by events across the world, including trade tariff spats (US China) and geopolitical scuffles. New CEO (internal) taken the helm.

HSBC shares hit a 9-year high in January, having rallied on hawkish central bank rhetoric, US tax reform and hopes of increased global growth. They then retreated by 18.5%, but have since rebounded by 5.6%. Like RBS they are toying with a key resistance level, a break above which could open the door for a 16% recovery. Will Q1 results be the architect of said breakout. Or perhaps peer results will be the engineer?

Will HSBC better 2018 highs of 798p (+16%) or retreat to 2018 lows of 650p (-5%)?

  • Shares fallen sharply from Jan highs; support and bounce from May 2017 lows
  • Some bullish technical signals (Momentum, RSI, etc)
  • Brokers positively skewed, with over 90% of broker targets suggesting upside from here
  • 8% average results day trading range since 2012 (3.8% for Q1 updates too).
  • In the 10-day run-up to FY results in Feb and Q1 results last April, HSBC shares rallied 3-4%

Broker Consensus: 34% Buy, 56% Hold, 9% Sell

Bullish: Jefferies, Buy, Target 950p, +38% (11 Mar 18)

Average Target: 765p, 11% (13 Apr 18)

Bearish: AlphaValue, Sell, Target 589p, -14% (5 Apr 18)

Pricing data sourced from Bloomberg on 13 April 2018. Please contact us for a full, up to date rundown.

Page: 04

Lloyds Banking (LLOY)

Lloyds, with the UK’s biggest mortgage book, would likely benefit most from a Bank of England rate hike in May (able to charge borrowers more). Lloyds results, however, are likely to be closely watched for announcements on PPI provisions as well as any more favourable news on special dividends/share buybacks. Any further PPI would likely dent sentiment, although with only a year to go before the claims deadline, there is heightened potential for more. The recent special dividend and buyback news gave the shares a real boost in late Feb so any big jump in profits could be interpreted as meaning more shareholder returns on the way.

Lloyds shares have recently rebounded to break out from their 2018 downtrend. Could Q1 results be the catalyst for a share price recovery, retracing even more of that 12% decline?

Will Lloyds regain Jan highs of 72.7p (+6.1%) or fall back to March lows of 64p (-10%)?

  • Shares bounced off rising support around 64p, breaking a 3-month downtrend, and above March highs
  • Bullish cross by Directional Indicators
  • Brokers are positive on LLOY, with over 80% forecasting that the shares will rise over 12 months
  • 4% average results day trading range since 2012 (4.9% for Q1 updates).
  • In the 10-day run-up to last April’s Q1 update, LLOY shares rallied 7.5% (avg. 4.7% all Q1’s since 2012)

Broker Consensus: 50% Buy, 25% Hold, 25% Sell

Bullish: Jefferies, Buy, Target 91p, +33% (21 Feb 18)

Average Target: 76.1p, +11% (12 Apr 18)5

Bearish: Berenberg, Sell, Target 55p, -20% (29 Nov 17)

Pricing data sourced from Bloomberg on 13 April 2018. Please contact us for a full, up to date rundown.

Page: 05

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS)

RBS remains a taxpayer-owned bank (73%) still restructuring to simplify itself amid a shift to a more UK-focused operation following recklessly acquisitive growth that resulted in it becoming too big to fail. 2017 saw it make its first annual profit, although it did make a loss in the final quarter. Will things have improved in Q1? Unlike Barclays, settlement with the US DoJ still eludes it. In fact, news on this, or further government stake sales (at a loss), could be the catalyst for shares to breakout from their current sideways channel.

RBS fell steadily from Jan highs, much like Lloyds and HSBC, but are now well off their lows, currently testing a resistance level which, if overcome, could open the door to a 14% rally back towards 2018 highs. Note that the most bearish broker target is only 4.5% below the current share price,

Will RBS break out to Jan highs of 305p (+14%) or retreat to March lows of 252p (-5.6%)?

  • Shares consolidating after sharp Q1 decline
  • Potential for bullish inverse Head and Shoulder reversal to 280p.
  • Brokers positive on RBS (90% Buy/Hold), with 90% forecasting a 12-month share price rise
  • 8% average results day trading range since 2012 (6.1% for Q1 updates).
  • In the 10-day run-up to the Q1 update last April, RBS shares rallied 10.9%

Broker Consensus: 42% Buy, 50% Hold, 8% Sell

Bullish: Santander, Outperform, Target 345p, +29% (2 Oct 17)

Average Target: 290p, +9% (13 Apr 18)

Bearish: SocGen, Sell, Target 255p, -4.5% (14 Mar 18)

Pricing data sourced from Bloomberg on 13 April 2018. Please contact us for a full, up to date rundown.

Page: 06

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CFDs: Like shares, but more flexible

While buying 14,182 shares in Lloyds Banking @ 70.51p requires an outlay of around £10,000 plus commission, the same exposure via a CFD requires about £500 plus commission (see right-hand box; margin + costs). If a trader invests in Lloyds Banking, one would assume they believe the share price is likely to move in their favour. After considering the ‘worst case scenario’ and assigning funds to cover it, the trader may conclude there’s little point in exposing the full £10,000 to Lloyds Banking shares - some of that capital could be put to good use elsewhere in the markets. (Source: CMC, Prices indicative)

CFDs are leveraged instruments, but you don’t have to use leverage

If you had, say, £10,000 to invest in the stock market, you could deposit that amount into a share dealing account and purchase shares in a company. You would pay commission to open the position, 0.5% in stamp duty and the full £10,000 will be tied up in your chosen shares with any profit or loss based on that exposure. The same £10,000 worth of exposure can be secured with a CFD for a fraction of the initial outlay thanks to leverage, with the risk and reward the same as if £10,000 worth of traditional shares were held. But should you not be interested in leverage, you can always treat CFDs like shares. Simply deposit £10,000 into a CFD trading account and take the equivalent CFD position which will tie up as little as 3%/£300 (note that overnight financing costs will still apply). The remaining £9,700 is not tied up, so you can use some of that to take advantage of another short-term opportunity elsewhere, or simply leave it on the account to support any losses. Best of all, using a CFD means you pay no stamp duty!

What’s your view?

Think shares will rise? Take a long position by buying CFDs (buy low, aiming to sell high). Think they’ll fall? Take a short position by selling CFDs (sell high, aiming to buy low). For a more detailed rundown of CFDs, their mechanics, associated costs and some trading scenarios download our ‘Comprehensive Guide to CFDs’ here.

Page: 07

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Page: 09

This research is produced by Accendo Markets Limited. Research produced and disseminated by Accendo Markets is classified as non-independent research, and is therefore a marketing communication. This investment research has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote its independence and it is not subject to the prohibition on dealing ahead of the dissemination of investment research. This research does not constitute a personal recommendation or offer to enter into a transaction or an investment, and is produced and distributed for information purposes only.

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Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 75% of retail investor accounts lose money when spread betting and/or trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how spread bets and CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
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