ZURICH Credit Suisse (CSGN.VX) is expected to report a fourth-quarter profit on Thursday, benefiting from last year's cost-cutting initiative, and investors are watching for evidence that restructuring will be applied more broadly.
The Zurich-based bank's profitability - like its sector peers - depends more on cost-cutting and restructuring than a pick-up in business, analysts say, as tougher regulations following the 2008-2009 banking crisis continue to bite.
"We believe Credit Suisse can raise cost save guidance from 4 billion Swiss francs to 4.4 billion francs," Morgan Stanley analysts Hubert Lam and Huw van Steenis wrote on Tuesday.
So far, Credit Suisse has not said how many jobs it plans to cut in order to reach its target of cutting spending by 4 billion Swiss francs ($4.40 billion), beyond the 3,500 jobs it said in November 2011 would go.
The bank employed 48,400 staff at the end of September, 20,600 of them in its investment banking business and most of the rest in its private banking operations.
In June, Credit Suisse was urged by the Swiss National Bank to cut shareholder payouts or raise funds to bolster its capital base.
Credit Suisse responded a month later with a $15.6 billion capital plan to issue convertible bonds, pay bonuses in shares, and sell prime Zurich real estate.
Analysts in a Reuters poll forecast 0.99 francs per share 2012 dividend and see a quarterly net profit of 645 million francs, after the bank nearly halved its dividend in 2011 to 0.75 Swiss francs.
Thursday's earnings will be the first since Credit Suisse's private banking arm absorbed its smaller asset management unit along with some investment bank activities in November.
That move, which triggered a management shake-up, reinforced Credit Suisse's commitment to its bond-trading business, all but abandoned by hometown rival UBS UBSN.VX.
($1 = 0.9095 Swiss francs)
(Reporting by Katharina Bart; Editing by Louise Ireland)