UBS, Switzerland's largest bank, has reported a 33 per cent rise in first-quarter net profits to SFr3.5 billion ($2.83 billion).
This figure is the bank's best-ever quarterly performance and easily beat analysts' expectations.
"This is our best net profit ever for the financial business," announced Clive Standish, the bank's chief financial officer, on Thursday.
"A clear differentiator for UBS is that we have a very large stream of income from wealth management and asset management which have more stable income," he said, adding that the investment banking business was more vulnerable to market fluctuations.
Standish said UBS, the world's largest wealth manager, was confident in its outlook even if conditions changed.
The bank said the net profit figure included a SFr290 million capital gain from the sale of a power generation subsidy, Motor-Columbus, and reported a return on equity of 30.6 per cent for the first quarter.
It said it would aim for a return of equity for the whole year of at least 20 per cent.
UBS's figures are the latest in a series of strong results from European investment banks, which have reported rising income from trading stocks and bonds.
Earlier this week, Switzerland's second-largest bank Credit Suisse reported a first quarter net profit of SFr2.6 billion, up 36 per cent compared with the comparable period last year.
Analysts appeared to take the results in their stride and said they did not expect the bank's shares to rise sharply.
"We've had higher-than-expected results from Deutsche and Credit Suisse, so this is what we expected," said Dirk Becker at Kepler Securities. "UBS says it is confident [about the outlook], and among the three it is still the best franchise."
UBS in particular is reaping the rewards of concentrating on investment banking and wealth management while operating a retail business only in its home market in Switzerland.
UBS shares have risen by 16.7 per cent this year.
swissinfo with agencies
The present UBS took shape in the 1990s through a series of mergers and acquisitions that transformed a mainly Swiss business into a global institution.
In December 1997 the Union Bank of Switzerland and the Swiss Bank Corporation announced their merger, which was completed in June 1998.
Later that year UBS had to declare a SFr793 million pre-tax loss after the collapse of the Long Term Capital Management (LTCM) hedge fund in which Union Bank of Switzerland had invested.
The firm's first major acquisition in 2000 was PaineWebber, the fourth-largest securities broker in the United States. This filled a strategic and regional gap in UBS's wealth management business.
In June 2003, the bank adopted the single UBS brand for all its major businesses.
Financial figures 2005
Net profit: SFr9.844 billion (+28%)
Total attributable profit: SFr14.029 billion (+75%)
Total net new money: SFr148 billion (+80%)
Proposed dividend payout: SFr3.80
Staff at the end of 2005: 69,569 (26,028 in Switzerland)
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