LONDON— Barclays PLC posted a profit in 2020 as buoyant securities trading made up for a lackluster performance in the U.K., where the bank expects pent-up savings to give the economy a boost as the coronavirus pandemic wanes.
Net profit at the London-based bank fell 38% from a year earlier to £1.53 billion, equivalent to $2.12 billion. Profit at Barclays’s corporate and investment bank rose 29% to £2.55 billion.
Barclays shares traded 2% lower on the results. The bank said it intends to pay a dividend for 2020 and buy back up to £700 million of shares. The proposed dividend of one pence a share was less than some investors were expecting.
The results support the strategy of Barclays Chief Executive Jes Staley, who has fended off demands from activist investor Edward Bramson to scale back the investment bank. Mr. Bramson’s Sherborne Investors says it owns 5.8% of Barclays. European lenders with large securities-trading units, such as Deutsche Bank AG and BNP Paribas SA, have fared better in the pandemic.
Barclays is the U.K.’s second-largest lender by assets after HSBC Holdings PLC, operating a large domestic retail and commercial bank as well as a trans-Atlantic investment bank that competes with the likes of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley .