Are Westpac shares a buy following the bank's results?

Is now a good time to snap up this banking giant's shares?

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Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) shares were on form on Monday.

The banking giant's shares ended the day almost 3% higher at $25.24.

Investors were buying the bank's shares following the release of its first quarter update.

In case you missed it, Westpac reported an unaudited net profit of $1.5 billion for the three months. This was down 6% from the second-half average of FY 2023.

However, it is worth highlighting that one-offs weighed on its profits. If you exclude these, Westpac's unaudited net profit would have come in flat against the second-half average at $1.8 billion.

The big question now is whether Westpac shares can keep rising or have they peaked? Let's find out.

Can Westpac shares keep rising?

The team at Goldman Sachs has been running the rule over the result.

And while it was pleased with what it saw, it hasn't been enough for a change of recommendation.

Goldman has held firm with its neutral rating with an improved price target of $23.46. This is lower than where its shares trade now.

The broker highlights that net interest margin (NIM) pressures appear to be easing and its costs were better than expected. However, it is waiting for more data before making any changes to its rating. It said:

Coupled with disclosures in BEN's 1H24 result, there are signs that industry-wide NIM pressures are starting to ease. Beyond this, WBC's performance on costs was better than we had anticipated, and bodes well for when WBC finalises details of its technology simplification initiative (expected before 1H24 result), which was first announced at its FY23 result, and which management believes can be funded within its A$2 bn p.a. of investment spend. We stay Neutral ahead of more detail around the costs and expected benefits of the technology simplification.

Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has positions in Westpac Banking Corporation. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has positions in and has recommended Goldman Sachs Group. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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