Credit Suisse is the Latest Swiss Bank to Disappoint
Credit Suisse reported an unexpected 4th quarter net loss of 637 million Swiss francs ($699 million) on Thursday, compared to a profit of 841 million francs during the same quarter a year earlier. An earlier poll of analysts by Reuters indicated an average analyst estimate of a 430 million franc profit.
The bank also said that it would drastically reduce its dividend from last year's 1.30 francs down to 0.75 francs.
Chief Executive Officer Brady Dougan blamed a 981 million franc restructuring charge for most of the loss, as the bank sped up a plan to reduce risk and exit unprofitable businesses. Poor performance by Credit Suisse's investment banking unit also contributed to its unexpected loss.
Credit Suisse was the latest Swiss banking giant to report disappointing earnings, following the Tuesday announcement from UBS AG (NYSE: UBS) that the bank's 4th quarter net profit plummeted 76% to 393 million Swiss francs, down from 1.66 billion Swiss francs a year earlier.
Like UBS (UBS), Credit Suisse is hoping that its wealth management business can make up for losses in its investment banking unit but that hasn't happened yet.
The two banks are also involved in legal disputes in the United States. American authorities are investigating whether or not Credit Suisse took part in tax evasion while managing the accounts of its American clients.
The fact that two Swiss banking giants issued disappointing earnings reports within days of each other could be seen as a warning sign. Although risk reduction played a major role in the results reported by Credit Suisse and UBS, many of the two banks' business units are underperforming.
Traders who believe that the worse than expected earnings reports from Credit Suisse and UBS are mostly due to risk reduction and a much needed restructuring of their business units might want to consider the following trades:
- Traders could buy the shares of European banks like Credit Suisse, UBS and Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE: DB) if they feel that they will emerge stronger.
- They could also take a look at the iShares MSCI Europe Financials (Nasdaq: EUFN) ETF if they would like to buy a wider array of European financial stocks.
Traders who believe that the poor results are a sign of weakness in the European banking sector may consider alternative positions:
- They might want to take a look at an ETF like the ProShares UltraShort MSCI Europe (NYSE: EPV), which could benefit if European businesses find it more difficult to get financing from the troubled European financial sector.
- The ProShares UltraShort Euro (NYSE: EUO) could also move higher if investors lose confidence in the health of the European financial sector and ditch the euro.
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