Credit Suisse: $1.2 Billion in Write-Downs Never Looked So Good
Credit Suisse, Switzerland's second largest bank, said Tuesday that fourth quarter profit swooned 72 percent amid roughly $1.2 billion in write-downs spanning leveraged loans and mortgage debt. Fourth quarter earnings fell to $1.10/share (1.21 Swiss francs), compared to earnings of $2.08/share (2.29 francs) in the year-ago period. The results, however, looked pretty positive in comparison to the losses posted late last month by Switzerland's largest bank, UBS AG, which took write-offs amounting to $14 billion for the same quarter. Nonetheless, the bank wasn't immune from the credit and mortgage crisis. Credit Suisse said that its RMBS business contributed $435.7 million to the fourth quarter write-down total; ABS CDOs contributed just $148.8 million in write-downs, a small number in comparison to market peers. Credit Suisse owns Select Portfolio Servicing, a captive servicer located in Salt Lake City that it purchased a few years back. It's that relationship that helped the investment banking operations at Credit Suisse avoid much of the subprime mess -- CEO Brady Dougan has repeatedly said that managers at SPS alerted the bank's executive board to problems in subprime mortgages in 2006, allowing the company to cut back on subprime originations dramatically the year before the credit crisis entered into full swing. The bank reported that it had reduced its positions in the U.S. subprime mortgage market by 59 percent during the fourth quarter, leaving it with net exposure of $1.45 billion at the end of Q4, compared to $3.54 billion at the end of Q3. Alt-A positions were also dramatically reduced, with Credit Suisse pulling net exposure from $6.35 billion in Q3 down to just $2.54 billion by the end of Q4. For more information, visit http://www.creditsuisse.com.