Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse said Tuesday a strong performance by its investment banking unit helped first quarter net profit rise by 23 percent to 1.05 billion Swiss francs (1.02 billion euros, $1.1 billion), outstripping forecasts by analysts.
Its investment bank posted a 14 percent rise in pre-tax profits to 945 million francs.
CEO Brady Dougan said that while trading revenue was higher than last year, the bank had a "difficult start to the year" due to a slowdown in underwriting only to benefit from later volatility in the markets.
The Swiss central bank shocked domestic and global markets with its decision on January 15 to end three years of efforts to hold down the value of the Swiss franc against the euro, sending the currency soaring.
"Our swift and proactive response to the changed currency and interest rate environment post the Swiss National Bank’s announcement, combined with an improvement in market activity, mitigated the impact on our results and led to higher revenues in our Wealth Management Clients business," said Dougan.
"In our well-diversified Investment Banking franchise, we achieved consistent strategic results and reported a return on regulatory capital of 19 percent, despite further significant deleveraging."
Dougan, who was presenting his last quarterly results, sounded an optimistic note on the coming three months and the rest of the year.
"Looking at the second quarter to date, the momentum in the businesses has carried over from the first quarter, with an improving trend in underwriting and advisory," he said.
"We remain committed to our capital and leverage goals and expect to make further progress in executing our strategic initiatives over the balance of 2015."
Dougan will make way for the Franco-Ivorian Tidjane Thiam, now head of the British insurer Prudential, in June.
- Restructuring expected -
Investors are betting that Thiam will downsize the bank, Switzerland's second largest, more decisively to focus on wealth management.
"Following the appointment of the new CEO Tidjane Thiam, we’ve been hearing some rumours that, in June, he could cut up to 3,000 jobs in the Investment Banking department, which would be in line with the deleveraging strategy," said Laurent Bakhtiari, a market analyst at IG.
But he said the bank's CET1 ratio -- a measurement of a bank's core equity capital compared with its total risk-weighted assets -- came out lower than expected in the first quarter.
"The deleveraging measures should have been stronger," he said.
"The new ones, which will have to be implemented by Brady Dougan and then by the new CEO, will be closely scrutinised, so there is still more to come on that front until the end of the year."
American banks have recently reported solid first quarters thanks to a rise in their brokerage activities, with Morgan Stanley reporting a 59 rise in profits for the first quarter, the highest since the financial crisis of 2008.