***Declares 25k Interim Dividend
By Dipo Olowookere
Access Bank Plc, the full-service commercial bank with headquarters in Nigeria and operations across Sub-Saharan Africa and the UK, has released its audited results for the first half ended 30 June 2016, showing positive growth in financial indices.
The Group recorded a strong performance in the first six months of the year, reasserting its capacity and resolve to deliver sustainable returns in spite of a tough operating environment.
In the audited financial results released to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) on Friday August 19, 2016, Access Bank recorded gross earnings of ₦174bn, representing an increase of 3% over the N168.3bn recorded in the same period in 2015. The Bank proposes an interim dividend of 25Kobo per share.
Gross earnings were driven largely by steady income growth from the Bank’s core business as interest income grew by 14% to ₦112.3bn in the first half of 2016 from ₦98.9bn in the comparative period of 2015. The Group posted a profit before tax of ₦50bn, a 28% year on year increase from ₦39.1bn. Profit after tax was up 26% in 2016 to ₦39.4bn, compared to ₦31.3bn in H1 2015.
In the face of challenging operating conditions such as rising inflation and currency devaluation, the Bank’s key indices remained stable: Capital adequacy stood above the regulatory minimum at 19%, while the percentage of non-performing loans to total gross loans was 1.9%, which is significantly lower than CBN’s threshold and one of the best industry wide.
The Bank also recorded gains in other financial indices; Net Interest Margin (NIM) was up 80bps year on year at 6.4%, compared to 5.6% from 2015; Operating Income grew by 11% to ₦130.2bn in half year 2016 compared with ₦117.6bn in the corresponding period of 2015; Total Assets amounted to ₦3.27tn, up 26% from ₦2.59tn in December 2015; and customer deposits grew 17% to ₦1.97tn from ₦1.68tn in December 2015.
Commenting on the results, Herbert Wigwe, Group Managing Director stated: “The Bank’s performance continues to be resilient in the face of a challenging macro-economic environment, which has been further exacerbated by a double-digit inflation and currency devaluation.
“Despite these macro uncertainties, we delivered gross earnings of ₦174bn, while pre-tax profits grew 28% to ₦50bn in the period. The results underscore our continued ability to grow sustainably whilst effectively adapting to a challenging operating landscape.
“The prevalent macro-economic conditions put a strain on business performance across the industry, with increased concerns about asset quality deterioration. Despite these challenges, the Bank’s asset quality remained stable, as non-performing loans stayed below industry average, in line with our guidance. Our capital and liquidity levels were also sustained above regulatory limits.
“During the period, we grew our retail market share, leveraging innovation and technology to create lifestyle products and enhance customer experience. This growth has led to significant increase in our transaction volumes and fee-related income.
“In addition, our cost of funds dropped by 170 bps year on year, reflecting the increase in our low cost funding base.
“Notwithstanding the high inflation and the impact of the currency devaluation on cost, operating cost remained stable owing to our cost management initiatives.
“Optimising operational efficiency will remain an imperative for the second half of the year, as we continue to see the benefits of our cost initiatives intensify over the next few months.
“We believe that macro conditions will remain challenging. Nonetheless, our priority in the coming months will be to strengthen our position in the industry; increasing focus on risk and operational efficiency, with customer-centricity at the heart of our strategy.”