MARINE Midland reported better than expected results yesterday, stirring enthusiasm for the group's numbers among analysts for the first time in years. Consolidated net income at the HSBC company grew by 38.3 per cent in the first half of the year to US$109.7 million. HG Asia bank analyst Neil Mackay said: ''The results are encouraging and this bodes well for the interims of HSBC.'' Bank president Jim Cleave said: ''The financial performance of Marine Midland has continued to improve across a broad front, including interest revenue, other operating income, continued reduction in expenses and the reduction in problem loans.'' A number of analysts said they expected to raise their full year forecasts for the bank, some by more than 10 per cent. One analyst raised the 1994 forecast to $230.8 million, an increase of 33 per cent on 1993. In 1995, the group is forecast to increase profit by 17 per cent to $269 million. A key area taken into account by analysts was a major reduction in the bank's cost-income ratio. Over the six month period, it was down 44.7 per cent to 67.75 per cent and in the second quarter it was down 55.8 per cent to 65.98 per cent. Although still higher than average in Hong Kong, the fall in the ratio was taken as a positive sign that management plans to streamline the group were working. Staff levels dropped seven per cent to 8,122 and group salaries dropped in the first half by $2.9 million to $134.33 million, while total personnel costs fell $5.2 million to $170.9 million. Analysts were also impressed that there were no more provisions for bad loans and the level of allowance for loans indicated there could be a write-back. The balance over the period of non-accruing loans fell 60 per cent to $195.7 million. It fell as a percentage of loans outstanding to 1.79 per cent from 4.92 per cent, a decline of 63.6 per cent. The group Tier I risk-weighted asset ratio increased to 11.2 per cent, compared to 9.57 per cent for the first half of 1993. Return on average assets was 1.31 per cent compared to 0.96 per cent in 1993 and the return on average common equity rose to 16.23 per cent, against 13.5 per cent. Overall, the rise in net income was attributed to improved management of expenses. The downturn in the capital markets in the first half appeared to have a small impact on overall profitability. ''This probably reflects the very conservative approach taken by the group in these markets while it has been cleaning up its shop,'' said one analyst. In 1992, the group reported profits of $109 million, against losses of $189.9 million in 1990 and $295 million in 1991. In 1989 it saw a plunge in profits from $160.5 million the year before to $13.8 million.