HSBC Holdings Plc, Europe’s largest bank, said first-quarter profit almost doubled, beating analyst estimates, as bad debts declined and it cut costs.

Pretax profit increased to $8.43 billion from $4.32 billion in the year-earlier period, the London-based bank said in a statement today. That beat the $8.04 billion average estimate of nine analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Chief Executive Officer Stuart Gulliver, 54, has closed or sold at least 52 businesses since he took the top job in 2011, seeking 30,000 job losses and sacrificing revenue to improve profitability. Finance Director Iain Mackay in March said there’s room for a further $1 billion in savings this year after the company surpassed it’s target and eliminated $3.6 billion of costs.

“We have strengthened our capital position and remain one of the best-capitalised banks in the world, allowing us both to invest in organic growth and grow dividends,” the company said in the statement.

Operating expenses declined to $9.3 billion, from $10.4 billion, the company said.

(Source: Bloomberg)