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For the top five large and medium-sized Italian banks listed on the stock exchange, 2023 was the year of historical records for net profits: 21.1 billion euros (+64% compared to 12.8 billion in 2022). An aggregate figure to which the 8.6 billion net profit of UniCredit, the 7.7 billion of Intesa Sanpaolo, the 2.05 billion of Mps, the 1.5 billion of Bper and 1.26 of BancoBpm contributed.
Broadening our gaze to the accounts of the medium-small commercial banks that have announced their accounts so far, the overall balance rises to 22.5 billion considering the profits of Popolare Sondrio (461 million) and Credem (562 million) and those of the smallest but profitable Banco Desio (240 million) and Banca Ifis (160). To which is added, albeit on a symbolic rather than quantitative level, the return to profit of the former Popolare di Bari (9.87 million).
The profit exploit, fueled largely by the growth in the interest margin which benefited from the rate hike decided by the ECB, led – especially for the 2 large banks – to an unexpected increase in coupons and share buybacks. To crown the golden year of Italian banks, there was also the “historic” return to the dividend of MPS after 13 years of fasting for shareholders.
The Italian data relating to 2023 comes in a context of record profits for the majority of European banks. But the eyes of investors were focused not only on the results of 2023, but also and above all on the outlook for 2024 that individual institutions estimated in meetings with analysts. The “guidance” was in some cases judged unsatisfactory (as for the French BNP Paribas, the Dutch ING and some medium-sized Spanish banks). So much so that, despite the presence of record results for 2023, heavy drops in the prices of those European banks were recorded on the stock exchange, which provided a slowing outlook compared to the forecasts developed by analysts considering a drop in ECB rates in the second half of the year. ‘year.
Investors’ fear is that in 2023, in addition to having reached the peak in rates, the peak in profits will also be reached. And it is with this question that the earnings (and outlook) season of Italian banks opened.