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UBS posts fall in quarterly profit to $1.35 billion, sets ambitious new targets

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Scott Mlyn | CNBC

LONDON — UBS on Tuesday reported a fall in quarterly profit, but beat analyst expectations and set ambitious new profitability targets as part of a strategic update.

The Swiss bank posted net profit attributable to shareholders of $1.35 billion for the fourth quarter. This was down from $1.64 billion a year earlier, and also lower than the $2.28 billion reported the previous quarter.

Analysts had forecast UBS to post net income attributable to shareholders of $863 million, according to the consensus published by the bank.

The figures take the bank’s full-year profit to $7.46 billion, above a company-compiled consensus of $6.98 billion.

However, UBS’ bottom line was hit by an increase of $740 million in litigation provisions for a French cross-border tax case. In late December, the bank filed an appeal with France’s Supreme Court against a decision by a Paris appeals court to uphold a money laundering conviction.

Here are other highlights for the third quarter:

CET 1 ratio, a measure of bank solvency, reached 15.0% versus 14.9% in the previous three months.
Operating income came in at $8.73 billion versus $9.1 billion in the previous quarter.
Return on equity, a measure of financial performance, stood at 8.9% from 15.3% in the third quarter of 2021.

New targets

“We are aiming to create sustainable value through the cycle. Reflecting our improved operating performance over the last two years, we have updated our financial targets, while our capital guidance remains unchanged,” the bank said in a statement accompanying the results.

In its first major strategic update since CEO Ralph Hamers took the reins in Nov. 2020, UBS said it will aim for $6 trillion in invested assets across its global wealth management, asset management and personal and corporate banking divisions.

Meanwhile the bank set the target range for its return on CET1 capital at 15-18% and cost-to-income ratio at 70-73%. The bank will also aim for 10-15% growth in profit before tax at its wealth management business.

“Our new aspirations, targets and goals will position us to live up to our purpose, better serve clients, deploy technology in differentiated and impactful ways, and open our ecosystem for new and existing clients,” CEO Ralph Hamers added in a statement.

UBS proposed a dividend to shareholders of 50 cents per share for 2021, rising from 37 cents in 2020, and aims to buy back $5 billion worth of its own shares in 2022. Buybacks offer a way for firms to return cash to shareholders — along with dividends — and usually coincide with a company’s stock pushing higher as shares get scarcer.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated shortly.

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