Swiss bank UBS AG posted a fourth-quarter profit of 1.205 billion Swiss francs ($1.12 billion) on Tuesday, beating analysts’ expectations partly thanks to a tax credit, but said rich clients’ withdrawals had continued.
The result is a significant swing from last year, when the bank reported a net loss of 9.58 billion francs in the fourth quarter. It also comes after three consecutive quarterly losses in 2009 and efforts to salvage the bank’s reputation among customers leery of its ongoing struggle with bad investments and U.S. tax authorities.
“We have taken decisive steps to transform UBS, and it is now a focused, efficient and resilient firm,” Chief Executive Oswald Gruebel said in a statement. “We expect that our return to profitability will increase clients’ confidence in UBS and restore our reputation.”
On average, analysts had predicted that UBS would report a net profit of 321 million francs in the final quarter.
UBS beat those expectations by a wide margin, citing a revised U.S. tax estimate — for a gain of 480 million francs — and lower costs. The bank cut staff numbers by 16 percent last year to just over 65,000, helping to drop fixed costs by 20.2 billion francs.
However, net new money — an important indicator of future business — remained negative during the fourth quarter. Outflows amounted to 56.2 billion francs, with more than half coming from its Wealth Management and Swiss Bank division. ZKB analysts described the figure as “massively disappointing” and twice as high as expected.
UBS shares were down 2.5 percent at 13.80 francs ($12.90) on the Zurich exchange.