Shrinking pays off for UBS; but valuation is pricey

The bank has spent the past couple of years cutting back on capital-intensive businesses in the investment bank to focus on wealth management, and that unit contributed nearly half of operating profit in Q4 thanks to strong inflows, particularly out of Asia.

The balance sheet is looking good too - with a core tier one equity ratio of 12.8%, just 20 basis points shy of the bank's target. The leverage ratio of 4.7% puts UBS ahead of rivals like Deutsche Bank and Barclays.

The question is whether this is now priced in. UBS trades at about 1.6x estimated TBV for the end of 2014, well above the European average even as it delivered just a 8% ROE last year. Target ROE is 15% by 2015, though the bank says this may not be reached until 2016.

Earnings coverage earlier

The stock's ahead 6% thus far today.

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