HSBC USA Inc. said Monday that first-half profits rose 27%.
Shares of the parent company's stock have dropped 15.33% on the New York Stock Exchange since Jan. 2, but Monday they rose 1.12%. Investors in Europe were apparently even more pleased with the overall company, sending the stock up 3.3% on the London Stock Exchange. The $85.4 billion-asset U.S. subsidiary of London-based HSBC Holdings PLC reported strong results across the board. Net income totaled $369 million for the six months. Net interest income was up 6%, to $1.1 billion; deposits 5%, to $58 billion; and loans 8%, to $42 billion.
(The Wall Street Journal reported on its electronic edition that HSBC and Merrill Lynch & Co. are slowing the expansion of their joint venture offering banking, brokerage, and fund management services to individuals. The venture offers services in Britain, Australia, and Canada but has eased up on its schedule for entering other countries, including Japan and Germany, as well as Hong Kong.
(According to the article, Keith Whitson, HSBC's chief executive officer, said that there was less urgency because investors are not eager to get into equity investments.)
In the first half the strongest results came from HSBC USA's residential mortgage lending unit, HSBC Mortgage Corp., which originated $6.6 billion in mortgages, up 128% from a year earlier.
Simon Maughan, an analyst covering HSBC for Goldman, Sachs & Co. in London, said that the strong numbers are related primarily to HSBC's acquisition of Republic New York Corp. in December 1999. HSBC said Monday that the integration of the company is complete and that "back-office systems conversions are in the final stages."
Mr. Maughan speculated that, on top of its success in the mortgage business, HSBC could look at another bank acquisition or an asset management deal in the United States to expand its presence.
Assets under management were up 10% in the first half, to $31.2 billion, and fee income from domestic wealth management was up 13%, to $102.7 million , the company said.
HSBC's U.S. unit represents 20% of the holding company's assets and could well be the model for its worldwide operations, according to Mr. Maughan. He said that he expects the parent company to refocus more on the consumer business rather than on worldwide corporate lending.
HSBC's stock price has slipped this year as the company has tried to fend off concerns about the deterioration of corporate loan quality in its worldwide operations.
Credit quality in the United States is holding up well because HSBC's lending is mostly to consumers, rather than to corporations, whose problems in repaying loans has been damaging the balance sheets of commercial banks.
However, HSBC, like other banks with a worldwide presence, could get hit if the global slowdown continues or worsens.
Sir John Bond, HSBC's group chairman, said HSBC has what it takes to weather any downturn.
In the interim report Monday, Sir John said that the "strength of our liquidity, our capital base, and our loan-loss reserves enable us to respond robustly to any events which may arise."
The impact of the worldwide economic slowdown has "not yet had a significant impact on our levels of provisioning for bad and doubtful loans," he added.
Profits of HSBC Holding rose 4%, to 39 cents per share, and Mr. Maughan of Goldman Sachs expressed confidence that HSBC's geographic diversification would allow it to survive attacks on its asset quality.