BNY Mellon Third-Quarter Profit Tops Estimates as Costs Fall

  • Expenses declined despite charge tied to software failure
  • BNY Mellon `did a very good job of controlling expenses'

Bank of New York Mellon, the world’s second-largest custody bank, reported a third-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates as the company cut expenses to offset the impact of lower interest rates.

Net income fell 23 percent to $820 million, or 74 cents a share, from $1.07 billion, or 93 cents, a year earlier, when profit was boosted by asset sales, the New York-based company said Tuesday in a statement. Earnings topped the 71 cent per-share estimate of 20 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, while revenue fell short.

Led by Chief Executive Officer Gerald Hassell, BNY Mellon has worked to keep expenses from rising as persistently low interest rates make it difficult to boost profits. Trian Fund Management and Marcato Capital Management targeted the custody bank after it lagged behind rivals in key measures of profitability. Edward Garden, one of Trian’s co-founders, was named to the bank’s board in December.

“They did a very good job of controlling expenses,” Gerard Cassidy, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets in Portland, Maine, said in a telephone interview. “That is driving higher profitability for shareholders.”

BNY Mellon rose 2.7 percent to close at $41.25 in New York trading. The shares have gained 1.7 percent this year, compared with a 13 percent drop by State Street Corp., the world’s largest custody bank. State Street is scheduled to report third-quarter earnings on Oct. 23.

‘Challenging’ Environment

Non-interest expense, adjusted for certain items, fell 2.6 percent to $2.6 billion. Revenue of $3.8 billion missed analysts’ estimates of $3.89 billion.

“It is critical for us to keep driving efficiencies and to reduce corporate overhead,” Hassell said during a a conference call. The revenue environment is “exceedingly challenging,” he said.

Custody banks keep records, track performance and lend securities for institutional investors. BNY Mellon also manages investments for individuals and institutions.

BNY Mellon’s assets under custody or administration declined to $28.5 trillion from $28.6 trillion in the second quarter, held down by the impact of the stronger U.S. dollar and lower stock prices, the bank said. Assets under management fell 4.4 percent from the previous quarter, to $1.63 trillion, as clients pulled a net $15 billion, mostly from the bank’s stock, bond, index and cash products.

Technology Failure

Like other money managers, BNY Mellon was hurt by the decline in stock prices in the third quarter. Global stocks, as tracked by the MSCI ACWI Index, slumped 9.9 percent last quarter amid fears that a slowdown in China will hurt global growth.

In August, the technology BNY Mellon used to calculate the prices of mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, provided by SunGard Data Systems Inc., broke down, affecting 20 mutual fund companies and 26 exchange-traded fund providers. Teams from the bank and SunGard worked for more than a week to fix the error and supply the missing data.

Chief Financial Officer Todd Gibbons said in a telephone interview that the bank incurred unspecified costs during the quarter to compensate clients for the disruption. He said any future costs related to the outage were likely not to be material.

‘Next Catalyst’

Low rates have depressed earnings at all the banks by reducing returns on deposits and by forcing the banks to waive fees on money-market funds. The prospect of higher U.S. rates has diminished as data on retail sales, producer prices and inventories released last week all disappointed, suggesting weakness in inflation and third-quarter growth.

Hassell has responded by cutting expenses and selling assets, including the bank’s headquarters, an Art Deco skyscraper at 1 Wall Street. A gain on the sale of the building and the sale of the bank’s stake in Hong-Kong-based Wing Hang Bank Ltd. added to earnings in the third quarter of 2014.

“The activists are figuring eventually higher interest rates will increase earnings,” Marty Mosby, an analyst with Vining Sparks in Memphis, Tennessee, said in a telephone interview before the release. “That is the next strong catalyst.”

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