Deutsche Bank posts loss on writedowns

Deutsche Bank, Germany’s largest bank, reported a $205 million quarterly loss, its first loss in five years, after writing down $4.2 billion in loans for leveraged buyouts and mortgage-backed securities. The loss was mitigated by $1.34 billion in earnings from liquidated investments. (Reuters) Deutsche Bank was seen as better positioned to weather the credit storm than its subprime-ravaged Swiss competitors UBS and Credit Suisse. “The figures look great if you take the Swiss rivals as the benchmark,” said Juergen Meyer at SEB Asset Management. “If you take a closer look, the numbers really aren’t that good and were helped by share sales.” (Bloomberg)

Soaring oil pushes up Shell, BP profits

Oil giants Royal Dutch Shell and BP reported hefty jumps in quarterly profits, with both companies beating analysts’ forecasts, as high oil and gas prices compensated for flat production and rising costs. (MarketWatch) The oil firms are the largest in Europe, and the No. 2 and No. 3 globally among non-state-owned producers. Shell posted a 25 percent rise in profits, to $9.08 billion, while BP reported a 63 percent spike, to $7.63 billion. (Bloomberg) “It’s an eye opener for investors, showing what the high commodity price environment really, really means in terms of earnings for the oil sector,” said Fortis Bank analyst Paul Andriessen. (Reuters)

British mortgage lender HBOS seeks $8 billion

Scotland’s HBOS PLC, the U.K.’s largest mortgage lender, is seeking to raise $7.9 billion through selling new shares to current investors. The lender has been hit hard by Britain’s deteriorating housing market. HBOS unveiled $5.6 billion in new writedowns early today and said it was cutting its dividend payout. (Reuters) Shareholders will be able to buy two shares for every five they own at a 45 percent discount to yesterday’s closing price. “It looks as though investors will be putting up a lot of money, and the likelihood is that profitability won’t improve in the short term,” said Julian Chillingworth at London-based Rathbone Brothers. (Bloomberg)

Love and theft

Take-Two Interactive’s “Grand Theft Auto IV” is hitting shelves today, and it is expected to have one of the top debuts ever for a video game. An estimated five million people will hand over $60 each in the next two weeks to buy the latest installment of the wildly lucrative franchise, which has sold 70 million copies since 1997. And “Grand Theft Auto” isn’t alone. At a time when consumers are cutting back, video game sales rose 63 percent in March versus a year earlier. “People say that if consumers are down to their last $50, the last three things they’ll buy are milk, eggs, and video games,” said Lazard Capital analyst Colin Sebastian. (The New York Times, free registration)