UPDATE 1.15pm: Job cuts and lower costs helped investment firm Macquarie Group overcome subdued financial markets to increase its first half profit.
Macquarie met expectations with a net profit of $361 million in the six months to September 30, up 18 per cent from $305 million in the previous corresponding period.
The global financial firm says its full year result should also improve on last year, despite no sign of a turnaround in market activity in the short term.
Macquarie pleased investors by increasing its interim dividend by 15 per cent from a year ago to an unfranked 75 cents.
Shares in the company closed up $1.04, or 3.49 per cent, to $30.85.
The group's operations are split between fixed-payment investment activities and capital market operations, and low activity in financial markets continued to affect the latter.
That was reflected by a 5 per cent fall in Macquarie's operating income in the six months to September, to $3.08 billion.
But it reduced its operating expenses by nine per cent from the same period in the previous year, and by 17 per cent from the preceding six months.
That was helped by a further 739 staff cuts in the six months to September, taking the number of jobs cut in the past year to 1625, or 11 per cent of its workforce.
Those cuts have come in response to changing market conditions and efforts to improve the company's efficiency, chief executive Nicholas Moore said.
"People are looking at efficiencies, and they will continue to look at efficiencies, but at the same time we are continuing to invest in new businesses and new people and in new systems,” he said.
Salary and leave costs in the six months to September also fell, down 20 per cent from the preceding six months.
Travel and entertainment expenses were down 17 per cent to $63 million.
"I think that's generally just lower levels of activity, and one would naturally expect that of sort of expense to fall at the same time,” Mr Moore said.
Macquarie made no change to its forecast for the full year, still expecting an improvement on the previous year's $730 profit.
The company has plenty of funds and remains on the lookout for acquisition opportunities, Mr Moore said.
“We do have surplus capital, so we are able to look at acquisitions across our group,” he said.
We've made less acquisitions more recently, primarily because we haven't been able to see assets that provide us an attractive risk-return equation.
"Our team continues to look at assets over all the geographies that we are carrying on business."