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HSBC Profit Misses Estimates; Bank Drops Profitability Goal

Europe’s largest lender, reporting results for the first quarter since the ouster of former chief John Flint, said adjusted pretax profit fell 12% to $5.3 billion. HSBC also walked away from a target for return on tangible equity of more than 11% in 2020, even as it credited operations in Asia with holding up despite challenges in the region. The stock slumped.

In Hong Kong -- a market that’s a key driver of HSBC’s earnings -- adjusted pretax profit inched up 1% in the quarter to $3 billion. That may provide some relief for investors who have feared the unrest would eat into business there. However, the bank also flagged a credit charge of $90 million to reflect a deteriorating economic outlook in the city.

“Overall we are pretty comfortable with our credit positions in Hong Kong,” Stevenson said. “The one area we are watching more closely than others is just the smaller end of SMEs,” he said, referring to small- and medium-sized companies.