December 5, 2016 / 2:22 PM / 8 months ago

Costs, targets and IPO in focus at Credit Suisse investor update

3 Min Read

CEO Tidjane Thiam (R) of Swiss bank Credit Suisse awaits a news conference to present the bank's halfyear results in Zurich, Switzerland July 28, 2016.Arnd Wiegmann

ZURICH (Reuters) - Just over a year since laying out his turnaround plan for Credit Suisse (CSGN.S), Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam is expected to take another ax to costs and pare back ambitious profit targets at the Swiss lender's investor day on Wednesday.

Having previously said he was not ready to give up on the goals, Thiam may now bow to tough markets that have made the Zurich-based bank's expectations look unachievable, analysts said.

"The market knows this already, with consensus 2018 forecasts much lower than management guidance," Societe Generale analyst Andrew Lim, who has a "sell" rating on the stock, wrote in a note.

At its October 2015 investor day, Credit Suisse set a target of 6.5 billion Swiss francs ($6.4 billion) in 2018 pretax income, from 3.7 billion in 2015, across its Swiss, Asia Pacific and International Wealth Management divisions.

It also gave "illustrative" figures of group 2018 pretax income of around 9-10 billion francs and a return on tangible equity of roughly 14 percent.

"These targets appeared ambitious at the time, in part because they relied upon aggressive revenue growth assumptions, which now seem nigh on impossible," Citi analysts, who rate Credit Suisse's stock "buy", said in a note.

Instead of lowering the targets, Credit Suisse could postpone them, according to Vontobel analyst Andreas Venditti, who has a "hold" rating on the shares.

Credit Suisse declined to comment ahead of its investor day.

Investors also hope for further details on Credit Suisse's plans to raise 2-4 billion francs by selling 20-30 percent of its domestic unit in an initial public offering.

"Worst Months Ever"

The goals and the IPO are part of Thiam's drive to refocus Switzerland's second-biggest bank more towards wealth management and less on volatile investment banking.

Tough conditions - Thiam described January and February as "simply two of the worst months ever in international markets" - have complicated what was always likely to be a difficult restructuring of a global investment bank, with the share price down around 37 percent in 2016.

To compensate, Credit Suisse has hinted it could cut costs more than planned, with the bank already aiming to get its operating cost base below 18 billion francs by the end of 2018 from an adjusted 21.2 billion in 2015.

This could include more job losses. Swiss newspaper Schweiz am Sonntag reported on Sunday Credit Suisse would announce a further 1,000 to 1,300 lay-offs at its domestic unit.

Credit Suisse declined to comment on the report.

Editing by Mark Potter

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