LONDON (AP) — U.K high street lender Lloyds Banking Group on Tuesday reported a modest net profit of 2 million pounds ($3.2 million) in the first quarter when its performance beat market expectations.
The company, 40 percent owned by U.K. taxpayers, also recorded a pretax profit of 288 million pounds ($467 million) in the first quarter, which included a 375 million provision to compensate customers for missold insurance.
In the previous quarter, it made a 316 million pounds net profit and a loss of 3.5 billion pounds in the same period last year. Its 2 million pound net profit compares with a 2.4 billion pound net loss last year and a 37 million pound profit in the previous quarter.
Lloyds has taken a total provision of 3.575 billion pounds, by far the biggest of any British bank, to compensate customers who were sold payment protection insurance which they didn't need.
Total income net of insurance claims was down 6 percent to 4.49 billion pounds.
Lloyds shares were up 1.6 percent at 31.5 pence in early trading.
The U.K. government injected much needed capital into Lloyds at the height of the financial crisis in 2008. It is now looking to sell off its shares, but only when their price has reached a certain level.
"The likelihood of reaching the government's 70 pence-plus break-even point seems a long way off, even if Lloyds is making slow and steady progress, whilst the absence of a dividend is another drag on enticing potential buyers," said Richard Hunter, head of equities, Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers.
Total impairments improved from 2.6 billion pounds a year ago to 1.66 billion pounds. Within that total, the charge in the first quarter in the bank's wealth and international division was 705 million pounds compared to 1.5 billion pounds a year earlier, primarily because of lower charges in its Irish and Australasian businesses.
Nonetheless, with two-thirds of the Irish portfolio classed as impaired, the bank warned that "further vulnerability exists."
Customer deposits were up 6 percent year-on-year to 412 billion pounds. The core tier 1 capital ratio— a key gauge of underlying financial strength — was up from 10 percent last year to 11 percent in the first quarter.
Lloyds is still seeking to clinch a deal to sell 632 branches to meet the European Commission's conditions for receiving state aid. While continuing to talk to the Co-operative Group, the bank's preferred bidder, Lloyds said last week it was open to other offers.
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