Despite the marginal rise in its half-year profits, the United Bank for Africa Plc has declared an interim dividend of 20 kobo per share for the period ended June 30, 2016, writes Goddy Egene
As expected, the challenging operating environment impacted performances of most companies for the half year (H1) ended June 30, 2016. The banks were not left out as some of them recorded lower profits while some ended the period with lower bottom-line. Those that recorded decline in their profits included First Bank, Zenith, Fidelity and Sterling.
However, Guaranty Trust Bank and Access Bank were among the few banks that posted impressive results in spite of the headwinds in the operating environment.
Specifically, Access Bank’s profit before tax (PBT) stood at N50billion, showing 28 per cent increase above the N39billion in 2015. The bank also grew profit after tax (PAT) to N39.5billion, from N31.3billion in 2015.
Guaranty Trust Bank also reported N91.38 billion half-year pre-tax profit, up N63.11billion declared in 2015.
Accordingly, the two banks recommended interim dividend of 25 kobo per share for shareholders.United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc was the last bank to make its H1 financials available, having announced a delay in releasing the results.
According to its audited accounts, UBA posted a PBT of N40.270 billion, up fromN39.621 billion in 2015 and PAT of N32.621 billion, compared with N31.999 billion in 2015.
Half year results
A closer look at the results showed impressive growth in several key financial indicators. This perhaps explains why the bank’s share price has outperformed the stock market so far this year. UBA’s share price is already up by 31 per cent this year and consensus forecasts are that the share price is still under priced at its current price of N4.32 as at 30 August, 2016.
Though earnings were flat but the bank recorded a significant growth in total assets, rising 20 per cent to N3.3 trillion, crossing the three trillion mark. The bank’s net loan position rose 29 per cent to N1.29 trillion partially boosted by the depreciation in the value of the Naira. UBA also recorded a significant 16 per cent growth in deposits to N2.41 trillion already surpassing the 15 per cent target growth in deposits set at the beginning of the year.
Another positive for UBA was a drop in cost to income ratio to 63 per cent in 2016, compared to 64 per cent in same period of 2015. This implies that the bank leveraged economics of scale to moderate operating expenses, as it achieved a 90 basis point decline in cost-to-income ratio in an inflationary environment. Notwithstanding the external pressure of a 42 per cent depreciation of the Naira and headline inflation rate of 16.5 per cent in the period, the bank kept operating cost in check, declining 1.0 per cent year-on-year during the period.
Also, the bank maintained its strong asset quality, with non-performing loans ratio at 2.4 per cent, well below the CBN set limit of 5.0 per cent for the banking industry.For one of largest lenders in the country, this impressive performance is an evidence of the bank’s diversified business model as well as resilience, particularly when put in the perspective of the challenging macroeconomic environment.
Assessing the impact of Naira devaluation of UBA’s earnings, it is noteworthy that in addition to the N40 billion profit, the bank recorded N56.1 billion in other comprehensive income, made up of N32.4 billion foreign currency translation difference from foreign operations and N23.7 billion fair value change on available for sale investments. These other comprehensive income are unrealised profits and thus do not form a part of the N40 billion profit reported in the bank’s income statement, in line with the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
This interim dividend is sustenance of the interim dividend payment initiated last year, when the Bank also paid N0.20 interim dividend, before a final dividend declaration of N0.40 per share, following the audit of the 2015 full year results. The interim dividend translates to a 4.5 per cent dividend yield, based on the closing price of N4.45 as at the close of market on Monday, 29 August, 2016.
Commenting on the results, the Group Managing Director/CEO, UBA Plc, Kennedy Uzoka said they were achieved amidst waning economic fundamentals which makes it even more impressive.
“We delivered profit in excess of N40 billion and grew balance sheet by 20 per cent, with our on-balance sheet total assets crossing the N3 trillion mark. Even as Naira depreciation and inflationary pressure increased the cost of doing business in Nigeria, we leveraged our economies of scale, enhanced operational efficiency and Group shared service structure to moderate our cost-to-income ratio by 90bps.”
According to him, UBA’s performance reflects its increased share of the market, even as broad economic activities slowed down in the period, as evident in the GDP contraction in the first quarter and general consensus that the economy may have further contracted in the second quarter of the year.
Uzoka assured that “UBA will sustain its culture of keeping a healthy balance sheet, with strong liquidity and capitalisation, as reflected in the liquidity and BASEL II capital adequacy ratios of 45 per cent and 18 per cent respectively.”
He also promised that “notwithstanding the current slowdown in economic activities, we see bright spots ahead, especially as we see strong prospect to grow market share across all chosen economies, through our enhanced dedication to customer service.”
Explaining the major drivers behind UBA’s performance, the Group Chief Financial Officer (GCFO), Mr. Ugo Nwaghodoh said: “This impressive performance was driven by increased transaction volume, balance sheet growth and efficiency as well as a disciplined management of operating cost. We achieved a 60bps moderation in funding cost, despite the tighter interest rate environment, as we continue to improve our deposit mix, towards low cost savings and current accounts.”
Nwaghodoh said that UBA’s performance in the period endorses the bank’s resilient ability to profitably grow its business from sustainable core banking offerings.
“Notwithstanding the challenging macro and regulatory environment, we achieved a 17.3 per cent return on average equity in the period even as the total equity of the bank grew 23 per cent to N407 billion.
He explained that the bank’s African subsidiaries continue to record significant milestones in their performance, as two erstwhile loss making subsidiaries are now profitable and having positive contribution to the bank’s bottom line.
“Overall, African subsidiaries, contributed a quarter of the Group’s profit, with an even stronger outlook, as we deepen our penetration of the respective markets,” he added.”
UBA also achieved some significant milestones in the period that further underline its strong performance in the period. For instance, foremost Nigeria rating agency, Agusto & Co. upgraded the credit rating of the bank, from “A+” to Aa-“, reflecting the banks improved capitalisation, strong liquidity and asset quality as well as enhanced profitability of the Group.
On the business front, the African Development Bank (AfDB) approved $150 million line of credit for UBA, strengthening the bank’s commitment to infrastructure and SME finance, including women-owned enterprises in Nigeria and the broader African continent. The U.S. Export-Import Bank also signed a $100 million MoU with the bank to expand trade between U.S. and Africa.
UBA Plc is one of Africa’s leading banking groups with operations in 19 African countries and offices in three global financial centers: London, Paris and New York.
From a single country operation in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, UBA has evolved into a pan-African provider of banking and related financial services, to more than 11 million customers, through over 1000 business offices and diverse channels globally.
Increased Demand Paves The Way for Expansion of Africa’s Sugar Industry
Africa, June 2021: A new focus report produced by the Oxford Business Group (OBG), in partnership with the International Sugar Organization (ISO), explores the potential that Africa’s sugar industry holds for growth on the back of an anticipated rise in regional demand. The report was presented to ISO members during the MECAS meeting at the Organization’s 58th Council Session, on June 17th 2021.
Titled “Sugar in Africa”, the report highlights the opportunities for investors to contribute to the industry’s development by helping to bridge infrastructure gaps in segments such as farming and refining and port facilities.
The report considers the benefits that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) could deliver by supporting fair intra-African sugar trade efforts and bringing regulatory frameworks under a common umbrella, which will be key to improving competitiveness.
The increased international focus on ESG standards is another topical issue examined. Here, the report charts the initiatives already under way in Africa supported by green-focused investment with sustainability at their core, which will help to instil confidence in new investors keen to adhere to ESG principles in their decision-making.
In addition, subscribers will find coverage of the impact that Covid-19 had on the industry, with detailed analysis provided of the decrease in both worldwide sugar production and prices, as movement restrictions and social-distancing measures took their toll on operations.
The report shines a spotlight on sugar production in key markets across the continent, noting regional differences in terms of output and assessing individual countries’ roles as net exporters and importers.
It also includes an interview with José Orive, Executive Director, International Sugar Organisation, in which he maps out the particularities of the African sugar industry, while sharing his thoughts on what needs to be done to promote continental trade and sustainable development.
“The region is well advanced in terms of sugar production overall, but several challenges still hinder its full potential,” he said. “It is not enough to just produce sugar; producers must be able to move it to buyers efficiently. When all negotiations related to the AfCFTA have concluded, we expect greater investment across the continent and a clearer regulatory framework.”
Karine Loehman, OBG’s Managing Director for Africa, said that while the challenges faced by Africa’s sugar producers shouldn’t be underestimated, the new report produced with the ISO pointed to an industry primed for growth on the back of anticipated increased consumption across the continent and higher levels of output in sub-Saharan Africa.
“Regional demand for sugar is expected to rise in the coming years, driven up by Africa’s population growth and drawing a line under declines triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said. “With sub-Saharan Africa’s per capita sugar consumption currently standing at around half of the global average, the opportunities to help meet increasing domestic need by boosting production are considerable.”
The study on Africa’s sugar industry forms part of a series of tailored reports that OBG is currently producing with its partners, alongside other highly relevant, go-to research tools, including a range of country-specific Growth and Recovery Outlook articles and interviews.
Global Demand for Investment Gold Plunged by 70% YoY to 161 Metric Tons in Q1 2021
Last year, investors flocked to gold as stock markets crashed on a gloomy economic outlook due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the second quarter of 2020, global demand for investment gold surged to over 591 metric tons, the second-highest level since 2016. However, the investors’ demand for gold has dropped significantly this year.
According to data compiled by AksjeBloggen, global demand for investment gold plunged by 70% year-over-year to 161 metric tons in the first quarter of 2021.
The Lowest Quarterly Figures after Record Gold Investments in 2020
In 2016, the global gold demand amounted to 4,309 metric tons, revealed Statista and the World Gold Council data. By the end of 2019, this figure rose to 4,356 metric tons. Investment gold accounted for 30% of that amount. Worldwide gold jewelry demand volumes reached 2,118 metric tons that year. Central banks and technology followed with 648 and 326 metric tons, respectively.
Statistics show the global demand for investment gold surged amid the COVID-19 outbreak, growing by 35% YoY to almost 1,800 metric tons in 2020. Demands for gold used in technology also rose by 17% to 383.4 metric tons, while central banks and other institutions bought 326.2 metric tons of gold in 2020, a 50% plunge in a year.
However, after record gold investments in 2020, the global demand for gold for investment purposes dropped to the lowest quarterly level in years.
The Price of Gold Dropped by 5% Since January
The average gold value tends to increase during a recession, making it an attractive investment in uncertain times. In February 2019, a troy ounce of gold cost $1,320.07, revealed the Statista and World Gold Council data. By the end of that year, the price of gold rose to $1,479.13.
The gold price continued growing throughout 2020, reaching an all-time high of over $2,000 in August. By the end of the year, the precious metal price slipped to $1,864 and then rose to over $1,950 in January 2021.
However, the first quarter of the year brought a negative trend, with the price of gold falling to $1,684 by the end of March. Statistics indicate the price of gold stood at around $1,860 last week, a 5% drop since the beginning of the year.
Gold, Other Safe Haven Assets Plunge Ahead of Fed Rate Hikes
Gold and other safe-haven assets plunged last week as the Federal Reserve signals the possibility of raising interest rates twice in 2023 given the ongoing economic recovery post-COVID-19.
The price of gold dropped by 6.04 percent last week as investors rushed to move their funds out of safe-haven assets including the new gold, cryptocurrency.
The entire crypto space sheds $898 billion in market value to hover around $1.625 trillion last week, down from $2.523 trillion recorded on Wednesday 12, 2021. Its highest market capitalisation till date.
The Federal Reserve raised inflation expectations to 3.4 percent and shifted the year it is expected to increase interest rates from near-zero to 2023 from the previously projected 2024.
The new hawkish stance of the central bank led to capital outflow from safe havens and subsequently boosted dollar attraction.
The United States Dollar gained across the board with the dollar index that tracks its performance against six major currencies, rising by 0.63 percent to 91.103 last week.
However, on Monday morning the gold showed signs of recovery, gaining 0.5 percent to $1,772.34 per ounce following the retreat in U.S. treasury yield that boosted the attraction of non-yielding metal.
Bitcoin, the most dominant cryptocurrency coin, pared losses to $33,245 per coin, up from the $32,658 decline it posted last week.
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