The 'casino' banking division made £1.3bn of profits, out of a total of £1.8bn, which analysts said demonstrated the scale of Antony Jenkins' task in attempting to overhaul the culture of the bank in the wake of the Libor scandal.
As he prepared to address shareholders at the bank's annual meeting on Thursday, one analyst said the results for the first quarter were ones of which the previous boss Bob Diamond "would be proud".
Jenkins said the bank had not been intending to "bury bad news" by announcing on the day of the budget that £38.5m of bonuses had been released to nine top bankers. He was handed £5.3m in shares – even after waiving a bonuses for 2012 – while investment banking head Rich Ricci, whose retirement was announced last week, received £17.6m.
The £1.8bn of underlying profits was down from £2.4m a year ago, largely caused by the £514m of costs associated with the "transform" programme put in place Jenkins, which included axing 3,700 jobs in a bid to create a "go to" bank. A one-off £235m gain on its bonus schemes last year - achieved by using a complex financial instrument rather than by issuing shares directly to staff to pay bonuses - had flattered revenue a year ago, which were down 5% in the first quarter.
The profits were released ahead of Thursday's annual meeting where the bank will respond to the review of the bank's culture by City lawyer Anthony Salz and aim to avoid a re-run of last year's revolt over pay and bonuses. Almost one in three shareholders failed to support the bank's remuneration report last year in a row over bonuses for Diamond.
Salz made 34 recommendations for change at Barclays in his £17m report earlier this month, which concluded that its bankers were engulfed in a culture of "edginess" and "winning at all costs" that damaged its reputation.
After attending a presentation about the results, Sandy Chen, analyst at Cenkos Securities, said there had been "less spin than we've heard roughly in a decade". But he added: "We are frankly sceptical that investment bankers will accept big cuts in their compensation, especially if their top-line revenues remain health...Wethink it would be difficult to convince the rest of group to thin their diets in order to feed the fat cats," said Chen.
"Ignore the excruciating references to Barclays as the 'Go-To' bank - these are results of which 'Sir' Bob would be proud," said Ian Gordon, analyst at Investec.
On a statutory basis, which includes the swings associated with being required to take account of the cost of buying back its own debt, the profits were £1.5bn compared with a loss of £525m a year earlier.
Barclays's finance director, Chris Lucas, who is under investigation by regulators over disclosures of fundraisings from Middle East investors in 2008, said the bank was "well capitalised".
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