UPDATE 2-Australia's Macquarie flags better than expected first-half profit, shares hit record

(Adds reaction, analyst comment)

SYDNEY, Sept 8 (Reuters) – Macquarie Group said on Wednesday that first-half profit may not fall as much as some analysts feared, sending shares in the financial conglomerate to a record high.

The company had not preciously provided guidance but JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs had forecast a fall in profit for the six months ending Sept. 30 of 17% and 18%, respectively, from the A$2.03 billion ($1.50 billion) it reported in the previous six month period.

“We currently expect the 1H22 result to be slightly down on 2H21,” the Sydney-based firm said in a statement to the stock exchange, sending its shares as much as 6.7% higher to a record A$182.66 each.

JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs are interpreting “slightly down” to mean a fall of about 5% to A$1.9 billion, they said in notes sent to clients. That also compares with the A$985 million profit Macquarie reported in the first six months of fiscal 2021.

It said on Wednesday that its commodities and markets business, which helped drive a record annual profit, was turning out to be stronger than expected.

Investment income in its investment banking unit, Macquarie Capital, was also expected to be “significantly up” for the year.

The announcement was a part of a presentation the bank was giving to the Jefferies Asia Forum. It did not provide figures.

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