The logo of Swiss bank UBS is seen in Zurich, Switzerland October 25, 2018.
The logo of Swiss bank UBS is seen in Zurich, Switzerland October 25, 2018. Reuters / Arnd Wiegmann

UBS posted a smaller-than-expected quarterly profit as turmoil in financial markets hurt its investment banking and wealth management businesses, with analysts predicting the Swiss bank will see harsh conditions in the second half as well.

The Zurich-based bank kicks off a round of earnings by major lenders across Europe, where analysts are watching for signs that a weaker economy, higher interest rates and the war in Ukraine are weighing on their operations and outlooks.

UBS's net profit in the three months through June rose 5% to $2.1 billion. That compared with $2.0 billion a year earlier and lagged expectations for a 19.8% rise to $2.4 billion, in a poll of 19 analysts compiled by the bank. Shares fell more than 6%.

GRAPHIC: UBS quarterly earnings (



"The second quarter was one of the most challenging periods for investors in the last 10 years," Chief Executive Ralph Hamers said. He said the operating environment in the second half of the year "remains uncertain" and that "sentiment remains subdued" so far in the third quarter.

The UBS update came after some U.S. rivals earned less money overall in the quarter, due to drops in dealmaking and sales of investment products. JPMorgan Chase & Co and Morgan Stanley both reported that investment banking revenues more than halved.

Earnings at UBS were helped by the sale of a real estate joint venture in Japan that yielded a one-off gain of more than $800 million.

UBS shares traded 5.7% lower late on Tuesday morning, off the day's lows. They are down 7.3% so far this year, outperforming a 23% fall in a broad index of European banks.

ZKB analyst Michael Klien said in a note uncertainties in financial markets related to the war, high energy prices and the COVID-19 pandemic "could also affect the level of customer activity" in the third quarter.


Its investment banking business saw revenue fall 14% to $2.1 billion from $2.5 billion a year ago. Analysts had expected $2.3 billion.

Advisory revenue was down 30% and capital markets revenue down 71%, which the bank attributed in part to lower business from initial public offerings.

At its wealth management division, its biggest business, revenue was $4.7 billion, down from $4.8 billion a year ago and versus expectations for $4.8 billion.

UBS said the drop was mainly the result of lower income from transaction fees and that clients in the Americas and Asia were especially on the sidelines. Outflows in asset management totalled $12 billion, primarily in equities.

It said it would make share buybacks as previously flagged in the months ahead, and finance chief Sarah Youngwood said the bank was on track to meet key targets.

Analysts with Jefferies said in a note they were surprised by the results, in which "pretty much all divisions missed".

In recent months, the bank has signalled that its wealth management clients will continue to remain cautious due to geopolitical and macro-economic uncertainties.

Earlier in July, UBS named Iqbal Khan as sole head of the Swiss bank's global wealth management division in an executive board reshuffle.

In a taste of challenges facing financial firms, Swiss wealth manager Julius Baer said on Monday it would freeze hiring for non-relationship manager positions, after higher costs and lower client activity triggered a 26% drop in first-half earnings.

UBS' smaller cross-town rival Credit Suisse, which reports earnings on Wednesday, has warned of a likely second-quarter loss. Analysts on average expect the bank to report a loss of 60 U.S. cents per share.