Deutsche Bank falls as client jitters hit trading in quarter

Deutsche Bank CEO John Cryan and CFO Marcus Schenck address the bank's annual news conference in Frankfurt, Germany, February 2, 2017.    REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach



Deutsche Bank AG fell the most in four months after earnings missed analysts’ estimates, in part because clients stepped back from doing business with the lender amid concern about its financial strength.
The stock slumped as much as 7.1 percent, the most since September, after revenue from debt trading, its biggest source of income, fell short of estimates and equity trading revenue unexpectedly declined.
Deutsche Bank said clients reduced balances and trading after news broke in September that the US had demanded $14 billion to end a probe into the bank’s sales of mortgage bonds. The lender last month settled the investigation for half that amount. Chief Executive Officer John Cryan, who is shrinking the trading operations and raising capital levels eroded by misconduct costs, said clients have since come back in a “meaningful” way and the bank should be profitable this year.
“There was a clear impact from the negative news flow around Deutsche Bank in the fall, especially on the global markets unit,” said Daniel Regli, an analyst with MainFirst whose recommendation on the stock is under review. “It remains to be seen whether this effect will be reversed in 2017.”
The bank’s net loss narrowed to 1.89 billion euros ($2.04 billion) in the three months through December, from a loss of 2.12 billion euros a year earlier. Analysts had expected a shortfall of 1.32 billion euros.

‘Promising Start’
“I don’t want to beat around the bush: There were times in 2016 when we were under intense pressure,” Cryan said Thursday at a press conference in Frankfurt. “This was true above all in the autumn,” when the bank saw “weeks of debate and speculation” about its financial strength.
Deutsche Bank shares pared declines after Cryan said clients who reduced business at that time had since engaged again. Revenue will rise this year and the company had a “strong” January across almost all its businesses, according to a presentation the bank published on its website.
“Our expectation would be that we would be profitable this year,” Cryan said. “We’ve put an awful lot of our difficulties behind us.”
The stock traded 5.4 percent lower as of 11:37 a.m. in Frankfurt. The shares had almost doubled from a record low in September through yesterday, as the bank settled some of its biggest legal matters and the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president prompted speculation that bank regulation will be weakened.
Deutsche Bank’s common equity Tier 1 ratio, a key measure of its financial strength, rose to 11.9 percent at the end of December from 11.1 percent three months earlier as it shrunk risk-weighted assets. That’s higher than the 11.3 percent analysts in the Bloomberg News survey had expected.
The bank reiterated a plan to raise the ratio to at least 12.5 percent by the end of 2018. Assets weighted by risk will probably rise in the first quarter “to support business growth,” the bank said.
“We welcome the improvement in the capital position, but wonder if this has come at a cost to the profitability of the core franchise,” Citigroup Inc. analysts including Andrew Coombs said in a report. They have a sell recommendation on the stock.
Deutsche Bank’s trading unit reported a fourth-quarter pretax loss of 737 million euros compared with a loss of 954 million euros a year earlier. Debt trading revenue rose 11 percent to 1.38 billion euros, falling short of the 1.68 billion-euro average estimate of 10 analysts in a Bloomberg News survey. Equity trading revenue, which analysts had expected to be flat, fell 23 percent to 428 million euros.
Cryan has said he’s willing to sacrifice some revenue as he improves the firm’s internal controls and reduces debt-trading operations that require increasing amounts of capital.
The corporate and investment bank, which houses advisory and underwriting activities, saw its pretax profit fall 2 percent to 304 million euros, while the private, wealth and commercial clients unit made a 701 million-euro pretax profit after a 527 million-euro loss a year earlier.

‘Peak Years’
Deutsche Bank took 1.59 billion euros of litigation charges in the fourth quarter, more than the 1.28 billion euros analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News had expected on average. While 2015 and 2016 were “peak years for litigation,” this year will continue to be “burdened by resolving legacy matters,” Deutsche Bank said in slides on its website.
Last month, Deutsche Bank finalized the settlement with the Justice Department over its handling of mortgage-backed securities before 2008. The bank agreed to pay a $3.1 billion civil penalty and provide $4.1 billion in relief to homeowners. This week, it was fined $629 million by UK and US authorities for compliance failures that resulted in the bank helping wealthy Russians move about $10 billion out of the country.
A criminal investigation of the trades by the Justice Department is ongoing. The bank also hasn’t resolved investigations into whether it manipulated foreign-currency rates and precious metals prices.

Client Redemptions
To help shoulder those costs, the company said last month that it will scrap the bonuses of its top executives for a second straight year and slashed variable compensation for other senior employees to shore up capital.
Deutsche Bank is also considering raising capital through the sale of a stake in its asset management unit in an initial public offering, according to people familiar with the matter.
That division generated a 753-million pretax loss after writing down the value of the Abbey Life unit it agreed to sell to Phoenix Group Holdings in September. Asset management generated a 173 million-euro pretax profit in the year earlier quarter. The business saw 13 billion euros of net outflows in the quarter, the highest since redemptions started in the third quarter of 2015.
“We believe Deutsche Bank is at the cross-roads of capital preservation versus supporting the revenue-generating ability of the franchise,” said Kian Abouhossein, an analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co. with a neutral recommendation on the stock.

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