Standard Chartered Plc’s shares slipped to their lowest in three years Tuesday after the company reported a surprise pretax loss of $1.5 billion in 2015, down from profit of $4.2 billion a year earlier — its first annual loss since 1989. Terming the result a “poor” one, new CEO Bill Winters said he expected the financial performance of the group to remain subdued during 2016.
The London-based bank reported an 84 percent plunge in underlying profit in 2015, but took a $1.8 billion restructuring charge, part of the $3 billion in restructuring charges it had announced in November last year. Since then, the firm has shed about $20 billion in risky assets, axed 7,000 jobs worldwide and ruled out annual incentives for its executive directors.
However, Winters warned that China’s financial uncertainties and volatility in commodity prices could dampen the bank’s recovery. “Given the current market conditions and the early stage of implementation of the strategy, we expect the financial performance of the Group to remain subdued during 2016,” he said in the results statement Tuesday.
The bank, which has long focused on emerging markets, also saw a spike in loan impairments in 2015 — up 87 percent to $4billion — due to falling commodity prices and deterioration in financial markets in India.
Standard Chartered, which had focused on expanding its assets rapidly to drive revenue under former CEO Peter Sands, was left riddled with bad loans when the commodity market crashed and growth stalled from China to India last year. With assets peaking at $726 billion at the end of 2014, Winters, 54, has been slashing the bank’s balance sheet, restructuring more than $100 billion Risk Weighted Assets in Asia, the Middle East and Africa after Sands was ousted in February last year.
In 2015, the lender’s revenue fell 15 percent to $15.4 billion, falling short of analysts’ estimates of $15.9 billion cited in a Bloomberg poll. Common equity Tier 1 capital ratio, a measure of a bank’s financial strength, fell to 12.6 percent from 13.1 percent as of Sept. 30.
Shares of the London-based bank plunged as much as 12 percent in early morning trade before settling down 5.98 percent at 5:39 a.m. EST. The bank's shares have fallen 22 percent so far this year, amid a broader 20 percent drop in European bank stocks, according to Reuters.
"We will continue to take the necessary and sometimes painful actions to reposition the group for returns and disciplined growth," Winters said Tuesday.