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HSBC Q1 profit misses estimate, unveils $2 billion new share buyback

04 May 2018

HSBC has seen a 4% fall in pre-tax profits in its first quarter results this morning, falling from $5bn a year ago to $4.8bn and missing analyst expectations.

Chief Executive Officer John Flint, a HSBC lifer who took over in February, is scheduled to unveil his strategic plan for the global behemoth in the coming months.

The banking behemoth generated revenue of $13.7bn in the first three months of the year, up 6% compared to a year ago, or 3% at the underlying level if excluding currency translation and movements in significant items.

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"This has enabled us to announce a further share buyback", he said. The profit in the latest quarter was below the $5.76 billion average of analysts' estimates compiled by the bank. In 1Q18, we increased investment in Retail Banking and Wealth Management to further grow our market share in the United Kingdom and mainland China.

The bank said on Friday it would initiate its $2 billionn share buyback soon but it was likely to be its only such repurchase this year.

But, it added: "Given the growth opportunities we now see, we expect this to be the only share buyback that we announce in 2018". HSBC seeks to make it its gateway to the world's second-largest economy.

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HSBC - which made over 75% of its profits in Asia in 2017 - plans to grow its retail and corporate banking business in the region by hiring thousands of staff and opening new branches, a plan that has suffered some setbacks amid China's slowing growth. That helped send the bank's shares as much as 2.7 percent lower in afternoon Hong Kong trading.

One of the biggest decisions he will have to make is over HSBC's perennially underperforming US business, which has been barely profitable in recent years as it suffers from being sub-scale relative to domestic rivals.

Flint said on Friday the bank would not look to acquire a domestic business in the United States to increase its scale there, contrary to media reports earlier this year.

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He said: "Our global businesses performed well in the first quarter, maintaining momentum from the end of 2017".

HSBC Q1 profit misses estimate, unveils $2 billion new share buyback