UBS AG Earnings Call Insights: Revenues Outlook and Investment Bank

UBS AG (NYSE:UBS) recently reported its first quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Revenues Outlook

Jon Peace – Nomura: I had two questions, please. The first one is on Wealth Management. You’ve given some very clear guidance around gross margins, but how should we be thinking about net new money, which was also well ahead of consensus? In particular, I think you’ve referenced some larger inflows in the quarter, so I just wondered whether that had an effect. The second question was related to the Investment Bank, the ROE you printed this quarter was well above the targets that you’d outlined with the restructuring. How should we think about that going forward? Were you highly conservative or was there a exceptional elements of seasonality. I was just wondering if you can give us some help with the sort of pro forma mix or run rate of revenues going forward?

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Sergio P. Ermotti – Group CEO: On gross margin, I think that’s clearly as you saw the most important issue is that we had some volatility during the quarter, January was good, but we saw February coming down and then March back at very good levels. In terms of net new money, your questions on net new money, we haven’t seen big chunk of those assets is well spread across the board, well diversified by clients. I have to say that when you look at Wealth Management outside the Americas – two-third of those assets, a big chunk of those assets was coming from a new client. So it’s not just a gaining share of wallets, but it’s also a substantial gain in market share. So nothing exceptional there, of course, we continue to confirm our target for a growth of net new money for the future. This was a very strong quarter, but clearly it would be not really stick to continue to expect this kind of growth going forward. In respect of return on allocated equities for the Investment Bank, I think clearly there is a seasonality effects and clearly we are also good business environment, particularly we had a couple of large transactions that affected positively in the quarter. Having said that, even excluding those factors, I think that the real point was the demonstration that the business model works that we can over time aim at creating that sustainable return on allocated equities at least at 15% returns, which is our targets, i.e., moving the Investment Bank from a detractor or dilutive factor to our earnings in terms of return on allocated equities to a neutral or a positive going forward.


Investment Bank

Huw van Steenis – Morgan Stanley: Just two things to delve on. So congratulations in your best net new money for five years. I was just wondering, if you could point to any particular things, which would stand out — I was particularly struck by all inflows in emerging markets, any comments also on any further potential outflows in Europe? Then secondly, I’m struck also that your return on allocated equities in the Investment Bank suggest you are the single most profitable Investment Bank that suggest you are the single most profitable Investment Bank on the planet this quarter. Any comments about your views on sustainability and any other sort of investments you might make as you tweak the investment plan?

Sergio P. Ermotti – Group CEO: Well, I think I’ll take the question on the Investment Bank. Again, I think that there is a seasonality effect. There is a demonstration that – when measured on a fully applied Basel III and this is the factor that you have to take in consideration, many of those businesses didn’t really make sense in the new paradigm. So that’s the reason why we reposition our business. There is a seasonality effect, there is one-offs, but clearly I would say still a thing that even excluding those factors having the returns that we are showing on a fully applied basis are – our aim is to demonstrate that we can be a best-in-class, where size and scope is not necessarily the driving factor. We are focusing to be very competitive in the areas we choose to compete and that’s where we want to be measured. We don’t want to be measured across the board doing everything to everybody. On net new money, I’ll let – maybe compliment my comments before, Tom, if you want to add any?

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Tom Naratil – Group CFO: Sure, Sergio. The one thing, Huw, I’d also add on return on attributed equity, including that seasonality that Sergio is taking about, we still believe that our guidance and our target of an RoAE, greater than 15%, is appropriate on a sustainable basis. When we look at net new money what we are very pleased with is the fact that we’ve got double-digit growth rates exactly where we want them in APAC, emerging markets and the ultra high net worth segment. We’re well diversified across multiple client relationships. But 75% of the net new money this quarter did come from our ultra high net worth client base. Some of the other things we think that are notable are very strong growth in Switzerland, 8.3% growth, which is certainly a sign that we’re picking up share in Switzerland and in Europe, we had positive flows this quarter with onshore inflows outpacing the offshore outflows. So I think it’s very well-balanced in terms of all the things that we talk about in regarding gross margin and some of the outlook for that. That outlook also applies to net new money going forward and so I would certainly say that the first quarter has been an exceptional one.

Sergio P. Ermotti – Group CEO: Yeah, maybe I’d just had on Europe, very important to underline that while we have outflows from European clients booked in Switzerland as they converge into the new paradigm, we had inflows in our domestic European businesses. So that’s very important to understand that booking in terms of Switzerland was positive as Tom just said, based on a variety of clients bookings in Switzerland. But when you look at the European client’s behavior, it’s very important to see that we have been able to more than offset outflows out of Switzerland into domestic market.