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Societe Generale cites ‘remarkable’ equity trading as it smashes expectations in the first quarter

A logo outside a Societe Generale SA bank branch in Paris, France.

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LONDON — French bank Societe Generale reported a “record” quarter for its trading division, helping it beat analyst expectations for the first three months of 2021.

Net income for the first quarter came in at 814 million euros ($977 million), the lender said Thursday. Analysts were expecting a net income of 204 million euros.

Societe Generale got a significant boost from its Global Markets division, where revenues hit 1.65 million euros and the level of activity was the highest since the first quarter of 2017.

Revenues from fixed income and currency activities were up by 51% from the previous quarter. In the equity business, revenue jumped 44%.

“The Equity businesses enjoyed their best quarter since 2015, with a remarkable performance in each of the regions, all activities having benefited from the good market conditions,” the bank said in its release.

Speaking to CNBC on Thursday, the bank’s CFO William Kadouch-Chassaing said it was “an excellent quarter across the board.”

“We are back to normal so I would expect that we continue that path as the economic situation continues to evolve as it is now,” he said.

Other highlights for the quarter:

  • Revenues hit 6.2 billion euros from 5.2 billion a year ago.
  • Expenses were almost flat from a year ago, at 4.7 billion euros.
  • CET 1 ratio, a measure of bank solvency, stood at 13.5% from 13.4% at the end of 2020.

Going forward, the bank expects the “commercial cost of risk” to increase slightly throughout the year. It has increased its provision for non-performing loans by 300 million euros, and reduced its provision on performing loans by 24 million euros.

Kadouch-Chassaing also told CNBC that the bank is keeping the same amount of provisions for the rest of the year.

“What we see now is clearly very low level of defaults. There is no indication that it will surge. At some point it may happen, but we don’t see that as of yet, so it is important to keep prudent provisioning for when and if it happens,” he said.

Societe Generale stock is up nearly 40% year-to-date.

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