Banking giant BNP Paribas (OTC: BNPQY) has been most visible on the international stage for its longstanding sponsorship of the French Open tennis championship. But after Wednesday's impressive results, BNP will gain notoriety this time for snubbing its rivals and skirting the global financial crisis with minor damage.
BNP took the rancid duck liver that is the U.S. subprime market and whipped it into pate de foie gras ... voila! Despite crisis-related losses of $872 million for the quarter, the bank managed to post a $1.48 billion profit, and for the full year actually beat its 2006 performance by 7% to $11.58 billion in net income.
Looking forward, BNP claims to have only $444 million in remaining exposure to subprime losses, most from its U.S.-focused BancWest subsidiary. However, with $1.9 billion in remaining exposure to monoline losses, it appears that the monoline concern is more substantial for BNP than the subprime crisis which started it all. (Although they can all be linked.)
By contrast, Barclays
The interest in BNP Paribas for investors is not as a potential investment (BNP only trades in the U.S. over-the-counter), but as an important barometer for the depth and longevity of the present crisis that is sweeping the world's banks. If more foreign banks begin to report revenue growth and minimal exposure to the subprime mess, it might calm the market and help contain the damage.
We Fools are anxious to say "au revoir" to the financial uncertainty that's churning the markets, and although it might linger in the air like a ripe Roquefort, Fools must monitor results from the world's financial institutions to gauge their progress in absorbing the losses and moving on.
Fool contributor Christopher Barker captains yachts and writes about stocks. He welcomes your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can also be found acting Foolishly within the CAPS community under the username Sinchiruna. He owns no shares of companies mentioned above. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.