BNY Mellon profit beats estimates as costs fall

October 20, 2016 6:48 AM EDT

A BNY Mellon sign is seen on their headquarters in New York's financial district, January 19, 2011. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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By Diptendu Lahiri

(Reuters) - Bank of New York Mellon Corp reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit as expenses dropped 1.4 percent, and the world's largest custody bank said on Thursday it expected costs to drop as much as 2 percent in 2016.

The bank, whose shares rose as much as 4.7 percent in morning trading, has been under pressure from activist investors to cut costs to help make up for sluggish revenue growth in the face of low interest rates.

Activist hedge fund Marcato Capital Management criticized the bank last year for having a "bloated" payroll. Marcato owned about 0.99 percent of BNY Mellon's stock as of June 30.

Train Fund Management LP, which had a 3.02 percent stake as of June 30, has praised the bank for its progress and said its leadership had demonstrated the will to improve performance.

"We are getting a tailwind to the expense base from the strength of the dollar, and specifically the move in sterling because we do have a fairly large expense base in sterling," Chief Financial Officer Todd Gibbons said on a post-earnings call with analysts.

The bank said its non-interest expenses fell to $2.64 billion in the third quarter ended Sept. 30 from $2.68 billion a year earlier as the dollar's strength helped to reduce software, equipment, legal, occupancy and business development costs.

BNY Mellon said it expected costs to drop by 1-2 percent in 2016. It had earlier expected full-year expenses to be "flat to down" compared with 2015.

The bank's net profit jumped 18.8 percent to $974 million, or 90 cents per share, from $820 million, or 74 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned 90 cents per share, beating the average analyst estimate of 81 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Adjusted revenue rose about 3.6 percent to $3.93 billion, beating the average estimate of $3.86 billion.

Assets under management rose 3.1 percent from the second quarter, to $1.72 trillion.

Up to Wednesday's close of $40.43, BNY Mellon's shares had fallen 1.9 percent this year.

(Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri and Nikhil Subba in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza and Sriraj Kalluvila and Ted Kerr)

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