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Julius Baer: shares fall as gross margin disappoints

( - Julius Baer said on Monday it had a stable profit in 2018 despite a challenging market environment, but disappointment over its gross margin hit the Swiss bank's shares.

The Swiss wealth management group, which focuses on advising sophisticated private clients, said it ended 2018 with stable profit and robust net new money growth.

The firm's net profit attributable to shareholders grew by 4% to 735 million Swiss francs, while net new money reached 17 billion Swiss francs, giving an annualised net new money growth rate of 4.5%, in the group's target range of 4% to 6%.

However, its gross margin fell by 4 points to 86 basis points on lower contributions from client activity and lower performance fees at Italian investment platform Kairos, it said.

As a result, Julius Baer has implemented a structural cost reduction program, aiming at cutting costs by 100 million Swiss francs by the end of 2019.

Julius Baer's shares have fallen by up to 4.3%, representing the sharpest faller in the Swiss benchmark index, the SMI.

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