Barclays reported on Thursday a doubling of third-quarter profits, beating market expectations, as it followed Wall Street rivals in reaping bumper investment banking fees from a surge in advisory mandates and equities trading.
The British bank posted profit before tax of 2 billion pounds ($2.8 billion) for the July-September period, better than the 1.6 billion pounds average of analysts' forecasts and twice the 1.1 billion pounds it made in the same period a year ago.
The strong performance showed the value of Barclays' U.S. business, where it makes nearly half its income, and British banks' balance sheets holding up amid the pandemic with the rest of the sector due to report over the next two weeks.
Barclays' advisory and equities business had a record performance in the first nine months of the year, the bank said, driving a return on equity for the overall investment bank of 16.4 percent compared to 10.5 percent a year ago.
Barclays CEO Jes Staley told reporters the lender was relatively relaxed about the prospect of growing inflation in Britain, saying annual price rises of up to 4 percent could be positive for the bank so long as it was supported by economic growth.
Barclays' results were boosted by the bank releasing 622 million pounds in cash set aside for bad debt charges that have yet to materialise, after government support measures propped up businesses.
Barclays is alone these days among British banks in competing with Wall Street rivals on their home turf across the main investment banking businesses of advisory, equities and fixed income.
That helped it cash in on the surge in M&A fees that saw U.S. peers such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley smash earnings estimates for the third quarter, as global merger volumes shattered all-time records.
Barclays reported investment banking income from advising on deals rose to 971 million pounds in the third quarter from 610 million in the same period a year ago, while equities income rose 10 percent.