Deutsche Bank Profit Plunges 98% And The Worst Is Yet To Come

The latest confirmation that Germany's troubled banking giant Deutsche Bank is unable to navigate the troubled waters of NIRP came on Wednesday when the bank announced that its second-quarter net income fell 98% from a year earlier, hurt by weaker performances in trading, investment banking and other core areas. The lender said net income tumbled to €20 million ($22 million) from €818 million a year earlier, modestly better than the €22mm loss expected, while net revenue dropped 20% to €7.4 billion.

After rebounding modestly on the beat, the bank’s shares fell tumbled 5% on Wednesday morning, their lower level in 2 weeks; today's decline has dragged DB stock 45% lower in 2016, making it one of Europe's worst performers YTD (the Stoxx 600 is down 27% in 2016).

As the WSJ notes, the Frankfurt-based bank has been hit harder than most. It is cutting costs and clients and trying to satisfy new, more-stringent capital requirements over the next three years. Its turnaround strategy has eaten into trading and investment-banking revenue, and investors’ concerns about the adequacy of its capital cushion have persisted. The bank also has been trying to settle regulatory investigations expected to result in big fines, another uncertainty for investors.

Chief Executive John Cryan said in a statement that the bank is making progress in a multiyear turnaround, but warned that if weak market conditions persist, it “will need to be yet more ambitious in the timing and intensity of our restructuring.” 

Deutsche Bank CEO John Cryan

Investors were unimpressed, and the shares now trade for two thirds less than their tangible book value, a steeper discount than even during the depths of the financial crisis.

What is more troubling is that as Bloomberg adds, the worst is yet to come.

The second quarter gives little cause for celebration. In a quarter which saw revenue sink 12% and net income came in at almost zero,  even after litigation costs tumbled, the only division to increase revenues and profit was Postbank, the consumer unit, which Cryan hopes a "white knight" will take off his hands. And unlike rival Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank was able to boost its key capital ratio fractionally in the quarter.The focus on cutbacks meant that Deutsche Bank was unable to benefit from its strength in fixed-income trading in a quarter during which the U.K. vote to leave the European Union stoked market volatility.

While debt trading revenue climbed 22 percent at the top U.S. investment banks in the quarter, Deutsche Bank's fixed-income trading revenue fell 19 percent. In foreign exchange, performance was flat, a sign that restructuring is preventing the bank from getting the most out of the market action.

Low interest rates and economic uncertainty stemming from Brexit weighed on the lender’s biggest businesses last quarter. Revenue fell year-over-year in all four of Deutsche Bank’s business divisions, including asset management. The worst year-over-year revenue decline was in global markets, the bank’s securities-trading operation and its biggest unit by revenue. That division’s second-quarter revenue declined 28% from the year-earlier period. Within the business, overall sales and trading revenue fell 23% during the quarter from a year earlier. Debt trading tumbled 19%, a far cry from the 22% rebound among top US banks.

Another problem for the CEO is that the bank's cost-cutting effort is also lagging compared to US peers: while it is having some positive impact - expenses fell 5% from the year-earlier period - with revenue shrinking, the cost-income ratio remains stubbornly high at 91%.

Another problem: headcount. It stood at 101,307 at the end of June, down by 138 full-time equivalents from the end of March, but still up on the year-earlier period. None of this looks like peak pain.

As Bloomberg adds, Cryan's suggestions on Wednesday that he might have to be "yet more ambitious" in the timing and depth of the restructuring looks like a promise to bolt the stable door long after the horse has bolted. The weak economic environment is unlikely improve soon, especially in Europe, where lower-for-longer interest rates are crushing bank profits. Worse, Deutsche Bank is also seeing rising loan losses from the shipping and metals and mining industries.

None of this bodes well for the execution of Cryan's strategy, and adding to the pressure is that rival banks moving faster with their overhauls: Italy's UniCredit is considering a 5.5 billion-euro capital raising and asset sales.Cryan would be right to ask his predecessors why they didn't move sooner and cut deeper. As it is, he's been left with what he admits will be a "sustained restructuring." Translated, that means peak pain is yet to hit.

Finally, the biggest problem for DB remains its massive balance sheet. Morgan Stanley analysts calculated that Deutsche Bank has a €9 billion capital hole to fill by 2018, and that's not including damage caused by future litigation costs, which considering DB's record of pervasive capital rigging, are sure to rise.