Together, these mean the bank now has plenty of capital to weather a downturn, and looks healthy from a balance sheet point of view. PPI redress will continue to be paid for another couple of years, but the bank has a £1.9billion war chest to dip into. Hopefully, we won’t see any more unexpected surprises.
Unfortunately, the remaining “core” businesses haven’t all been living up to expectations. Barclays is the last British bank with a seat at the investment banking top table. But the division, once a jewel in the crown, has been struggling.
Income fell 31 per cent in the most recent quarter. That’s partly down to tough market conditions, but Barclays has still found it hard to keep pace with US rivals.
The more pedestrian UK high consumer and business bank has fared better.
The amount of money on loan has grown steadily, although net interest margin (the difference between what the bank pays to borrow money and charges on loans) has slipped, and profits are heading in the right direction. However, the bigger worry for many shareholders will be the raft of ongoing regulatory investigations.
Some 23 separate investigations were named in half-year results, involving regulators from both sides of the Atlantic. It doesn’t help that CEO Jes Staley is also under investigation for attempting to uncover the identity of a whistleblower.
Long term, we think Barclays is heading in the right direction. The UK and credit cards businesses should generate relatively steady profits, which can be passed back to shareholders as dividends. A turnaround at the investment bank would add sparkle.
Unfortunately, the new targets the bank set itself in last week’s results highlighted that such a future is still some way off.
Analysts forecast a 3.5 per cent dividend yield in 2018, but it looks like investors will have to wait until 2019 or 2020 before the dividend machine really gets motoring.
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