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Credit Agricole's profit jumps 64%, says provisions manageable

Stock MarketsMay 07, 2021 08:16
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A branch of Credit Agricole bank is seen in Warsaw, Poland, July 3, 2018. REUTERS/Marcin Goclowski/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) -Credit Agricole on Friday posted a 64% jump in first quarter net income, as pandemic-related provisions for bad loans dropped while income from capital market activities rose. France's second-biggest listed bank joined other major European lenders in relying on bumper trading volumes and lower credit risk provisions to offset low margins on lending. Chief executive Philippe Brassac declined to give guidance on future loan loss provisions, but suggested they would not be operationally significant.

"They aren't a destabilising element in terms of the group's plans," he said.

Credit Agricole (PA:CAGR)'s cost of risk was down 38.2% in the quarter while revenue in capital markets rose by 17.4%. In fixed-income trading, revenue was up 13.5%, the bank outperforming some European peers like BNP Paribas (PA:BNPP), Barclays (LON:BARC) and Societe Generale (PA:SOGN) but lagging U.S. rivals. Credit Agricole said first-quarter net income rose to 1.04 billion euros while revenue increased by 5.6% to 5.49 billion, bottom-line figures welcomed by investors as its shares rose 1.3% in early trade, outpacing the broader market.

"We would expect some earnings upgrades driven the strong top line and lower provisions", analysts at JP Morgan said in a note, while Jefferies hailed "another strong" set of results. Credit Agricole last week sealed a $1 billion takeover bid for Italian bank Creval. Asked about its ambitions in Italy, its biggest market after France, deputy CEO Xavier Musca said Credit Agricole had no further M&A plan there, adding the priority was to integrate Creval within Credit Agricole Italia this year.

The acquisition is expected to double its market share in Italy's wealthiest areas.

In asset management, Amundi, a subsidiary of Credit Agricole, last month entered exclusive talks to buy most of asset manager Lyxor from Societe Generale for 825 million euros, in a move to grow its exchange traded funds bueonsse.

Shares in Credit Agricole SA have gained around 27% so far this year, against a 24.73% increase for the Stoxx Europe 600 Banks index.

Credit Agricole's profit jumps 64%, says provisions manageable

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