Barclays Profits Fall 25% in Q1

LONDON -- Barclays  (LSE: BARC  ) (NYSE: BCS  )  this morning released its first-quarter results for the three months to 31 March 2013, as chief executive Antony Jenkins continued his strategic review of the high-street bank.

Adjusted pre-tax profit fell by 25% to 1.79 billion pounds in the quarter, compared to 2.40 billion pounds in the same period last year. However, of the 609 million-pound difference, 514 million pounds came from restructuring fees and, excluding a "non-recurrence of a 235 million-pound gain in Q1 12 in relation to hedges of employee share awards" as well, Barclays would have been in line to post an increase in adjusted pre-tax profits of 6%.

Around 3,700 jobs are expected to be axed in total under the restructuring program, with CEO Jenkins stating:

We set out in our Strategic Review in February our path to become the "Go-To" bank for all our stakeholders. While there remains much to do to build a stronger and more resilient Barclays, we are completely focused on executing our Transform programme and are making good early progress. 

Strategic cost management is a critical factor in delivering our commitments. We have recognised around £500m of 'costs to achieve Transform' in the first quarter, reflecting our immediate priorities to reduce our European retail branch network in order to focus on the mass-affluent segment and on repositioning our equities and investment banking operations in Asia and Europe.

Other highlights from the news included an improvement in statutory pre-tax profit, increasing from a 525 million pounds loss in 2012's first quarter to 1.54 billion pounds reported today, helped by a significant reduction in its own credit charge from 2.62 billion pounds in the same period last year to just 251 million pounds now.

Elsewhere in the interim results, management pointed toward "good momentum across the businesses" -- the Investment Bank business BarCap reported a 11% rise in pre-tax profits to 1.32 billion pounds, while Barclaycard saw a 5% improvement to 363 million pounds and Wealth and Investment Management a 20% increase to 60 million pounds. 

As expected, basic earnings per share fell back a bit to 8.1 pence in contrast to Q1 2012's 13.2 pence, but investors were largely encouraged by today's news, as shares in the high-street bank soared up 6% in early trade to reach 316 pence, before falling back a little bit. 

There's clearly more to be done -- with Jenkins expecting "a further 500 million pounds of costs to achieve Transform in 2013" -- but, stripping out the restructuring costs, I believe that generally positive noises are starting to emerge from Barclays at last.

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