In a bear trend since 2007, Barclays has won over the market with this update, at least temporarily.
These numbers from Barclays (LSE:BARC) have been well received on the basis of "jam tomorrow", as the high street bank continues to suffer from litigation and conduct fines, whilst growing strongly excluding these charges.
The increase to the dividend, where the projected yield is around 5%, was accompanied by a pledge for future returns to shareholders. In particular, share buybacks should become a feature as the bank throws off the shackles of its legacy regulatory misdemeanours.
- Chart of the week: Is Barclays still in a bear trend?
- Why Lloyds Banking Group pleased its City fan club
- 10 shares to generate £10,000 income in 2019
On an underlying basis, many of the metrics have improved at a clip, such as the return on equity number (especially Barclays UK), earnings per share and pre-tax profit.
Outside of the charges, the cost/income ratio has also improved slightly, although at 66% it remains rather higher than where the bank would like it to be. Ongoing investment into the business, particularly in the digital space, is becoming possible as the viability of technology development improves as the bank controls its other expenditure.
Source: TradingView (*) Past performance is not a guide to future performance
Less positively, the bank has felt the need to make a provision for economic uncertainty arising from Brexit, whilst its impairment charge has increased by 5%.
The capital cushion remains sufficient, although it has slipped slightly, and regardless of the underlying improvement to the profit number, it remains below estimates.
A decline in income in the investment bank follows on from a treacherous year in the markets, especially the fourth quarter, although when compared to some of its peers it is holding up relatively well.
- UK bank sector: What to expect this results season
- The UK banks to buy in 2019
- HSBC shares: What does the future hold?
Investors are choosing to look through the litigation and conduct issues which have blighted these numbers, and focus instead on the progress the bank is making.
This is in contrast to the share price performance, which has suffered a 20% decline over the last year, as compared to a 0.7% decline for the wider FTSE 100 index, and a drop of 12% in the last six months alone.
As such, with brighter prospects emerging, the general market view remains positive and comes in at a 'buy'.
Analysts at UBS are among the buyers. They think Barclays shares could be worth as much as 235p, implying 40% possible upside.
It points out that fourth-quarter adjusted profit before tax was 2%, or £9 million ahead of consensus estimates in a tough quarter. Revenue was also a 2% beat.
"Given weaker-than-forecast [Investment Bank] prints at RBS and HSBC, we think the market will have feared worse and we expect a positive price reaction today."
*Horizontal lines on charts represent levels of previous technical support and resistance. Trendlines are marked in red.
These articles are provided for information purposes only. Occasionally, an opinion about whether to buy or sell a specific investment may be provided by third parties. The content is not intended to be a personal recommendation to buy or sell any financial instrument or product, or to adopt any investment strategy as it is not provided based on an assessment of your investing knowledge and experience, your financial situation or your investment objectives. The value of your investments, and the income derived from them, may go down as well as up. You may not get back all the money that you invest. The investments referred to in this article may not be suitable for all investors, and if in doubt, an investor should seek advice from a qualified investment adviser.
Full performance can be found on the company or index summary page on the interactive investor website. Simply click on the company's or index name highlighted in the article.