So how good really was Deutsche Bank AG’s second quarter? That depends a lot on the fine print you won’t see until later this month.
The German lender surprised markets on Monday with better-than-expected preliminary earnings. Much of the gains in the second quarter seemed to come from one-off items while trading income fell sharply. That called into question the bank’s assertion that the figures demonstrate the lender’s resilience.
“It’s not entirely clear where the beat is coming from, but if it’s mostly from widening credit spreads, then it’s probably not sustainable,” said Markus Riesselmann, an analyst with Independent Research who has a sell recommendation on the bank’s stock. “In fact, trading revenue seems to have decreased more than forecast, indicating that the bank still has a long way to go.”
The earnings surprise was a rare piece of good news for Deutsche Bank investors that have seen the shares trading at a record low, a tumultuous management reshuffle and a plan to reduce its global presence in its fourth major strategic overhaul in three years. New Chief Executive Officer Christian Sewing is cutting thousands of jobs and paring back businesses in the U.S. and Asia after recent attempts to restore profitability ended up eroding revenue. He is scheduled to provide detailed earnings on July 25.
Deutsche Bank (DB.N) shares rose 7.3 per cent on the news, paring losses this year to 35 per cent. Before Monday, the lender had been the worst-performing large bank stock in Europe in 2018.
The Frankfurt-based bank said it expects to report second-quarter net income of about 400 million euros (US$468 million), a decline of 14 per cent from a year ago and much better than the 159 million euros analysts had predicted. Revenue, too, appeared resilient, expected to be roughly in line with the 6.6 billion euros of last year’s second-quarter. The bank had earlier indicated that the top line would probably be lower.
The corporate and investment bank seems to have accounted for the lion’s share of that beat, but revenue at the unit included a 100 million-euro gain on an asset sale and debt valuation adjustments reflecting a widening of Deutsche Bank’s credit spreads during the quarter. Both are one-off effects that don’t say anything about the unit’s underlying business.
Trading revenue, meanwhile, declined by 15 per cent from a year earlier, worse than the 10-per-cent drop analysts had expected. That’s the fifth consecutive quarterly decline for that unit, and worse than the large U.S. investment banks that so far have reported second-quarter figures.
“Given valuation levels and the negative sentiment and newsflow around Deutsche Bank’s share price, we understand the positive market reaction,” Daniele Brupbacher, an analyst at UBS Group AG, wrote in a note. “That said, at this point in time, we don’t think that the fundamental investment case changes.”
Debt valuation adjustments are an accounting quirk that boost earnings when spreads on the bank’s bonds widen, which is generally a sign of increasing skepticism among investors. The statement on Monday also showed that litigation expenses and restructuring costs, which are other one-time effects, were lower than expected by analysts.
On the positive side, Deutsche Bank seems to have managed to hold on to its market share in the business of advising companies on acquisitions and providing them with access to capital markets as revenue in its advisory and origination rose two per cent, compared with a stagnant overall fee pool at the three reporting U.S. banks.
Sewing, who took over in April, is accelerating cost cuts and a pull-back from various investment banking activities around the globe. He’s committed to cutting over 7,000 jobs by the end of 2019, retrenching in costly trading businesses and effectively giving up on competing head to head with Wall Street firms. The filing on Monday showed that the bank shed 1,700 jobs in the quarter.
“Management believes that these results demonstrate the resilience of the franchise,” Deutsche Bank said in the filing. The restructuring has “progressed rapidly,” it said.