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Swiss central bank building.
Reuters/Ruben Sprich
Flying high.
WATCH THE THRONE

The Swiss central bank’s record profit would make it the world’s second most profitable company

Eshe Nelson
By Eshe Nelson

Economics & Markets Reporter

Watch your back Apple, the Swiss central bank is coming for your profit throne.

The SNB expects to report a staggering profit for 2017 of 54 billion francs ($55 billion). That’s just below expected earnings for Apple in 2017 of $57.5 billion, according to data from FactSet. Of all the listed companies in the world, the SNB’s performance comfortably puts it in second place, ahead of China’s big four banks, Samsung, Microsoft and JPMorgan.

Listed companyEstimated net income 2017
Apple$57.5 billion
SNB55
ICBC43.5
Samsung59.1
CCB36.3
ABC29.1
Microsoft26.3
Bank of China26.2
JPMorgan24.4
Alphabet22.9

Most the central bank’s profit is due to currency fluctuations, which amounted to 49 billion francs in 2017. The SNB holds almost all of its assets in foreign currencies, and last year the Swiss franc depreciated. These currency movements don’t always work in the bank’s favor. In 2015, it posted a record loss of more than 23 billion francs.

The central bank is also benefiting from a blockbuster year for stock markets. It has a massive $88 billion portfolio in US equities, of which $3 billion is invested in Apple.

Unusually for a central bank, the SNB has private shareholders and must report earnings like any listed company. This year’s profits mean shareholders can expect to receive a dividend payment of 15 francs per share, the legal maximum, although they have little to no say over how the bank is run. The central bank also distributes some of its profit to the federal government and to Switzerland’s 26 cantons, which will get 2 billion francs in total for 2017. More details will be reported on March 5.

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