Deutsche Bank 2020 outlook dims after first quarter loss as coronavirus knocks revenueDeutsche Bank 2020 outlook dims after first quarter loss as coronavirus knocks revenue
FILE PHOTO: The financial district with the headquarters of Germany’s largest business bank, Deutsche Bank , is photographed on early evening in Frankfurt

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Deutsche Bank swung to a loss in the first quarter and the outlook for the full year darkened, underlining the impact from a costly overhaul and pressure on revenue as the coronavirus crisis slams the brakes on the global economy.

The German lender, which earlier this week published some earnings results, reported on Wednesday a bottom-line loss of 43 million euros ($46.64 million) attributable to shareholders in the quarter, compared with a 97 million euro profit a year ago.

The net profit figure reported on Wednesday, like those disclosed on Sunday, was still better than analysts had initially expected, and reflect a revenue lift from a surge in trading as markets swung wildly.

The bank’s shares rose 1.3% by midmorning after an initial fall, building on the past two days of sharp gains.

But the quarterly performance may say little about the bank’s outlook for the rest of the year as it tries to engineer a turnaround after five years of losses. Some investors fear the pandemic could undermine the bank’s restructuring efforts.

The lender had hoped its pretax profit would at least break even this year, but chief financial officer James von Moltke told a telephone press briefing it was now “too early to say” whether it would be profitable in 2020.

Last year, Deutsche posted a 5.7 billion euro loss, its fifth in a row, as the cost of its latest turnaround attempt hit earnings.

The coronavirus outbreak didn’t kick in until the quarter was well underway, and the bank has said it may miss some targets. Some senior bankers have privately grown more pessimistic about the speed of the economic recovery over recent weeks.

“In the current crisis, we have shown robust numbers and demonstrated strong performance in support of our clients across all core businesses,” Deutsche Bank chief executive Christian Sewing said in a statement accompanying the results.

Deutsche, now in its 150th year, has not fully recovered from the last financial crisis more than a decade ago.

Bankers hope the current crisis will allow it to gain market share in Europe as U.S. banks retreat and the lender helps funnel loans, mostly backed by the government, to the nation’s companies.

Von Moltke said foreign banks had retreated from Germany, calling it “not an unexpected reaction” to the global crisis.

CREDIT IMPACT

Analysts and investors said the earnings looked relatively good but noted there were question marks around how the bank would handle potential credit losses.

“The extent to which the corona crisis will affect Deutsche Bank’s credit defaults and capital resources is still largely unclear at this stage,” said Benjardin Gaertner, a portfolio manager at Union Investment in a note to clients.

A bright spot in Deutsche’s earnings were revenues at the investment bank, which rose 18% in the quarter. Revenue in the important fixed income and currencies business rose 13%.

But the bank warned of a deteriorating performance for the investment bank in the quarters ahead, meaning that for the full year revenue will be only slightly higher than in 2019.

By contrast, quarterly revenues in the corporate banking division fell 1%, while they rose 2% in the private bank.

Deutsche, as part of its restructuring, has been striving to rely more on income streams from those divisions, and less so on the investment bank.

It already warned last month that the impact of the coronavirus outbreak may affect its ability to meet its financial targets.

Until the outbreak of the coronavirus in Europe, things had been looking up for Deutsche this year. Its shares had rallied, it successfully issued a risky bond, regained market share in Germany and added a new top investor.

($1 = 0.9219 euros)

(Reporting by Tom Sims, Patricia Uhlig, Arno Schuetze and Hans Seidenstuecker; Editing by Michelle Martin & Shri Navaratnam)