(Reuters) - Sweden’s Handelsbanken (SHBa.ST) reported fourth-quarter net earnings above market estimates on Wednesday, boosted by favorable trading conditions and lower-than-expected costs.
Net profit rose to 4.38 billion crowns ($457 million) from 4.02 billion crowns a year earlier, beating an average forecast of 3.91 billion crowns, according to Refinitiv data.
The Swedish bank, which has been affected by rising costs in recent years, said it continued to work on slashing its spending.
In October, Handelsbanken said it would cut 800 jobs and pull out of Asia and Germany as the lender seeks to trim costs after restructuring charges dragged down its earnings in the previous quarter.
“The efficiency enhancement measures initiated during the second half of the year did not have sufficient time to manifest themselves on the cost level in 2019,” the bank said in its report.
“The first visible cost effects are expected to be seen in Q1 2020,” the bank added.
Total expenses edged up 1% to 5.6 billion crowns on-year, but came in lower than analysts’ forecast of 5.8 billion crowns.
Net interest income, which includes income from mortgages, rose 3% to 8.1 billion crowns from 7.9 billion crowns a year earlier, but stood in line with analysts’ expectations.
Net gains on financial transactions were 413 million crowns, up 36% from 303 million in the year-ago period.
The bank proposed a dividend of 5.5 crowns per share for 2019, unchanged from 2018 and slightly lower than the average forecast of 5.68 crowns.
Shares in the Swedish lender have fallen nearly 5% since the start of the year, as investors maintained a cautious stance about the company’s profitability after years of high costs.
Reporting by Colm Fulton; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips