LONDON --Standard Chartered (ISE: STAN.L) is in the Olympic swing as it posted its tenth consecutive year with record-setting first-half profits, which were up 12% to $2.8 billion on the back of continued growth in wholesale banking (that's financing trade and helping companies manage their cash flow, as opposed to the banking you or I would do) in the bank's core Asian markets.
The strength in wholesale banking more than made up for a weaker performance from the bank's consumer banking division, which suffered from lower margins on mortgages and higher operating expenses as Standard Chartered builds out its network of branches and staff in the region.
Standard Chartered has one of the healthiest balance sheets of the U.K.-listed banks and, unlike HSBC and Barclays, it isn't trying to recover from serious reputational damage, which may be why it is the highest-rated with a price-to-tangible-book ratio of 1.6 compared to 1.1 for HSBC and 0.4 for Barclays. Standard Chartered's focus on the emerging markets of Asia and Africa and relatively low exposure to the mess in Europe also provide some comfort for investors.
Even after the 10% increase in the interim dividend, Standard Chartered's 3.2% dividend yield isn't overly impressive, but the bank's proven track record and emerging-market exposure could still provide solid returns for investors in the coming years. Even after the shares' run-up from around 13 pounds in May and June investors looking for some exposure to financials could do worse than consider Standard Chartered.
However, if you still don't trust the financial industry you can find some of The Motley Fool's favorite opportunities in other sectors in its free "Top Sectors of 2012" report. Download the free report now by clicking here.
Are you looking to profit from this uncertain economy? "10 Steps To Making A Million In The Market" is the very latest Motley Fool guide to help Britain invest. Better. We urge you to read the report today -- it's free.
Further Motley Fool investment opportunities
The article Record Profits Standard at Standard Chartered originally appeared on Fool.com.
Nate does not own any shared discussed above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Standard Chartered. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.
Copyright © 1995 - 2012 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.