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|Shareholders will likely welcome CEO John Flint's success in seeing revenue gains outpace cost increases AFP/Anthony WALLACE|
The London-listed bank added that pre-tax profit jumped 31 per cent to US$6.2 billion in the first three months of 2019 from a year earlier on strong revenue growth in retail banking, wealth management and commercial business.
"We have made a good start to 2019," said John Flint, chief executive of the banking group that makes the lion's share of its profits in Asia.
"We remain alert to risks in the global economy. We are proactively managing costs and investment in line with this more uncertain outlook and will continue to do so."
The banking behemoth also said it had reduced reported operating expenses by 12 per cent as Flint embarks on a planned overhaul aimed at growing the group while keeping a lid on costs.
Around midday in London, shares in HSBC were up 2.95 per cent at 687.40 pence on the British capital's FTSE 100 index, which was up 0.81 per cent overall.
The new HSBC figures "came in ahead of expectations, leading to a rise in the share price," noted Graham Spooner, investment research analyst at online trading firm The Share Centre.
Flint's progress in bringing costs more under control was welcomed by investors, especially given revenue gains outpaced cost increases in the first three months of the year.
'NEW PERSON, NEW ATMOSPHERE'
The Asia-centric bank had failed last year to live up to its pledge for revenue growth to outpace costs growth.
Analyst Dickie Wong from Kingston Securities said Flint's arrival had injected some fresh energy into the bank and a tighter leash around costs.
"A new person, a new style, brings in a new atmosphere," he said, using a Chinese idiom.
Adjusted operating expenses rose 3.2 per cent in the quarter, compared with a 5.6 per cent increase in the same period last year.
HSBC saw a profitable 2018 but it suffered a tough final quarter when it took a hit from uncertainty over Brexit and the long-running trade row between Washington and Beijing.
Overall, last year saw strong growth for HSBC with net profit ballooning 30 per cent to US$12.6 billion.
But the yearly growth figures were dampened by a tough final quarter when the markets - especially those in Hong Kong and China - went into meltdown over global trade fears.
It's "time for the organisation to get back into growth mode", Flint said in a recent video produced by HSBC detailing his first year in office.