NatWest beats forecasts and returns to profit

NatWest (LON: NWG) has beat analyst expectations in the third quarter after posting a pre-tax profit of £355m.

Boosted by the number of loans issued during the pandemic, the lender’s profit was well above the expected £75m loss.

Looking towards the end of the year, NatWest has said that provisions are likely to be at the lower end of a £3.5-4.5bn.

Commenting on the Q3 results, chief executive Alison Rose said: “These results demonstrate the resilience of our underlying business and the strength of our balance sheet in the face of significant continued uncertainty. Our sector-leading capital position, strong levels of liquidity and intelligent and consistent approach to risk mean we can continue to provide our customers and communities with the support they need.

“Although impairments were relatively low in the quarter and we have seen some positive trends across our customer base, the full impact of Covid-19 remains very unclear. Challenging times lie ahead, especially as the current government support schemes come to an end and as new Covid-19 related restrictions are introduced. We continue to deliver well against our strategy, building a bank that champions potential and has the capability to grow.

“By building deeper relationships with our customers at every stage of their lives, simplifying the bank further, investing in innovation and partnerships and allocating capital well, we will deliver sustainable returns to our shareholders,” Rose added.

Throughout the first half of the year, NatWest fell into a loss due to a £2.9bn provision against potential loan losses.

In September, the lender launched a new savings account, for customers with little-to-no savings. NatWest said the new savings account would help consumers create a buffer zone during economic uncertainty, and that it would aid in efforts to help an additional two million customers to save by 2023.

NatWest shares (LON: NWG) remained steady in pre-market trading. This year to date they have fallen 46% and are currently at 116.75p (0735GMT).