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Investors Selling Bank Stocks Ahead of LDR Implementation

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  • Investors Selling Bank Stocks Ahead of LDR Implementation

Investors at the Nigerian Stock Exchange have started selling their holdings of bank stocks following the announcement of the new LDR policy that mandates banks to loan at least 60 percent of their deposits to customers.

In a bid to stimulate the economy and broaden growth, the Central Bank of Nigeria had directed Nigerian banks to maintain 60 percent Loan-to-Deposit Ratio (LDR) by September 2019.

While some stakeholders seem to be in support of the new policy, there are clear signs that it could increase the size of non-performing loan and limit banks’ ability to earn at a minimal risk level.

Investors are aware that the new policy may force banks to start issuing high-risk loans at a period when the regulator, CBN led AMCON, has limited tools to bail-out financial institution.

Therefore, investors are selling bank stocks to reduce risk exposure ahead of the new LDR policy as they are projecting drop in earnings amid high-risk exposure.

Since the new directive was announced on July 3, the big banks are down by 2.19 percent. Guaranty Trust Bank led the chart with a decline of 6.7 percent, followed by First Bank’s 2.4 percent.

Zenith Bank and United Bank for Africa (UBA) are down 0.26 percent and 1.64 percent, respectively.

The Director of Sub-Saharan African Banks at EFG Hermes research, Ronak Ghadia, however, highlighted a likely misconception concerning the new policy, he said the 60 percent LDR will be computed based on gross loans and not net loans as indicated earlier. Therefore, the impact of the new policy may not be as severe as previously estimated.

He later said: “UBA is the only bank with an LDR significantly below the regulatory threshold. Likewise, GTB and Stanbic would have to grow their loan book by a modest 1.5 percent and 0.5 percent respectively to meet the 60 percent LDR threshold while UBA would have to increase its credit portfolio by 8.8 percent, hefty but manageable.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Banking Sector

Unity Bank Posts N2.09 Billion Profit Despite N4 Billion Revaluation Loss in 2020

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Unity Bank Plc, one of Nigeria’s leading financial institutions, grew profit after tax to N2.09 billion in the financial year ended December 31, 2020.

The lender profit before tax stood at N2.22 billion in the year under review while assets rose by astonishing 67.90 percent from N293.05 billion in 2019 to N492.02 billion in 2020.

In the audited financial statements released on Monday, Unity Bank grew its gross loan portfolio by 92.9 percent from N106.9 billion recorded in December 2019 to N206.2 billion in December 2020.

The almost 100 percent jumped in credit provision highlighted the bank’s strategy at deepening support for farmers, improving food security and enhancing new job creation for thousands of youths and entrepreneurs.

During the bank’s earnings call on Monday, Mr. Kolawole Ebenezer, the Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer, Unity Bank Plc, explained that the bank has been able to cut down on its Non-performing loan to near-zero percent by adopting a strategy that allows the lender to focus on farmers and at the same time implement strategy that mitigates security challenges.

Unity Bank grew its net operating income by 9.71 percent to N25.46 billion in 2020, up from N23.21 billion in the corresponding period of 2019. Similarly, net interest income rose by 7.60 percent to N17.75 billion in 2020 from N16.49 billion in 2019 while earnings per share stood at 17.85 kobo.

In spite of COVID-19 disruption, Unity Bank grew customers’ deposit portfolio by 38.4 percent to N356.62 billion, up from N257.69 billion filed in 2019. This indicates market acceptance of the bank’s product offerings and series of technological integration launched during the year under review to ease banking challenges, especially as the world struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bismarck J. Rewane, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Financial Derivatives Company Limited, who spoke during the earnings call on Monday, said Unity Bank is operating like a tier I bank despite its obvious limitations and highlighted the broad-based growth the bank has recorded in recent years.

The economic think tank further explained that if the bank’s N4 billion revaluation loss is added to profit after tax declared, the bank would have declared N6 billion. This does not include the adjustments made by the Central Bank of Nigeria to the interest rate charged on agric loans that eroded interest income on loans by over 30 percent.

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Finance

Nasdaq Set To Launch Options Trading For Coinbase Global

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Less than a week after the largest crypto exchange in the U.S. Coinbase was listed, Nasdaq is set to start trading options for Coinbase Global.

According to Reuters, a representative for Coinbase stated that the COIN.O options will start trading on Nasdaq on Tuesday, April 20.

The launch of equity options will offer a new way for investors to bet on the fortunes of Coinbase. Equity options represent the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell a stock at a certain price, known as the strike price, on or before an expiration date.

The news follows Coinbase’s direct listing, which saw the firm’s stock fluctuate between a valuation of $429.54 and $310 on its first day of trading.

It was reported that the Chief Executive Officer of Coinbase, Brian Armstrong sold less than 2% of his holdings which worth about $292 million in shares on COIN’s first day of trading. According to filings made with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Armstrong sold 749,999 shares in three batches at prices ranging from $381 to $410.40 per share for total proceeds of $291.8 million.

It was also reported that insiders dumped nearly $5 billion in COIN stock shortly after it was listed. Filings on the Coinbase Investor Relations website showed a total of 12,965,079 shares were sold by insiders, worth over $4.6 billion at COIN’s $344 share price at close on Friday.

Yahoo Finance reported the stock has slumped 22.5% from a high of $429.54 on April 14 to a current after-hours trading price of $332.75 where it appears to have settled after Monday’s trading session.

On April 20, Coinbase Pro announced that will add support for new trading pairs for Basic Attention Token (BAT), Cardano (ADA), Decentraland (MANA), and USDC from April 20. The four assets will be paired with three fiat currencies (USD, EUR, GBP), BTC, and ETH, with limited trading functionality to be made available while market liquidity is assessed at launch.

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Banking Sector

Unity Bank Grows Asset by 67.90% to N492.02 Billion, As Gross Earnings Hit N42.71 Billion in FY 2020

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Unity Bank Plc grew its assets base to N492.02billion representing a significant increase of 67.90% from the N293.05 billion of total assets value recorded in 2019. This is even as the agric-focused lender declared gross earnings of N42.71 billion within the period under review.

A review of the Bank’s audited results for full-year ended 31 December 2020, released to the Nigerian Stock Exchange, showed that the Bank improved its bottom line marginally as Profit After Tax, PAT stood at N2.09 billion. Profit Before Tax, PBT closed at N2.22 billion, in a year that was defined by the unmitigated impact of global pandemic characterized by disruptions in business activities and the general downturn that resulted in revenue/returns dip in major leading sectors globally.

The lender substantially grew its customers’ deposit portfolio to N356.62 billion, up from N257.69 billion in the corresponding period of 2019, representing a 38.4% growth. This affirms positive market uptake of the Bank’s product offerings, as well as the lender’s growing customer base to its recent aggressive push with agile customer-centric products, which has played a role in deepening financial services penetration, especially to a wider world, an underserved spectrum of the retail market.

Other major highlight of the audited financial statement relates to growth in its net operating income which rose to N25.46 billion from N23.21 billion in the corresponding period of 2019, representing a 9.71% increase. This is even as the net interest income recorded a significant jump, as it rose by 7.60% to N17.75 billion from N16.49 billion in the corresponding period of 2019. Earnings per Share closed at 17.85 Kobo.

The Bank’s gross loans portfolio increased by 92.9% to N206.2 billion in December 2020 from N106.9 billion in December 2019. The Bank’s lending strategy was specially tailored to support the nation’s food agenda. This had the added advantage of improving food security across the country, providing employment to thousands of youths and entrepreneurs, contributing to the conservation of FX stocks and mitigating security challenges by ensuring adequate empowerment of citizens and deepening skills acquisition across the value chain.

Commenting on the result, Unity Bank’s Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mrs. Tomi Somefun stated that the results showed the resilience of the Bank during unprecedented times of uncertainties and our ability to innovate and focus on key balance sheet items that will enable us to maintain the growth trajectory.

She further opined that: “Consequently, for the year under review, the opportunities to significantly create more quality assets for the business, thought to have a sustainable impact, informed part of choices made and we have seen some encouraging market uptake in this regard, apart from the benefits to the enterprise bottom-line that have also started trickling in. Other key performance indicators especially on the liability side of the business were equally not left out. The Bank deployed new product features and augmentation supported by omni-channel, USSD promotions and other channels to enhance services delivery efficiency, drive income generation capacities and enhance steady balance sheet growth for the year”.

Looking ahead, Somefun stated: “we will latch on targeted strategies to deploy significant investment in technology in order to ride the waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. On the back of this, the Bank focuses on achieving major efficiency gains, deepening its retail footprints and penetrating identified cluster market segments, as bulwarks to tapping into various youth markets platforms, in addition to the mass market would get a further boost”.

While laying an outlook for the future, the Unity Bank’s Chief further stated: “The Bank is also looking to consolidate on the gains from its core business areas and niche in the agribusiness sector. The Bank has solidly financed over one million farmers over the past three years. These farmers cut across several primary crop production such as rice, maize, cotton, wheat, sorghum, etc coupled with their rich value chains, and we hope to continue to expand on this as we play our part in driving the country’s quest for self-sufficiency in food production.”

Analysts are of the view that has made an appreciable impact in the agribusiness and its value chains consistently, the market is excited that the current year performance and different initiatives of the Bank show that the agribusiness is bankable not only as a differential positioning but also for sustainable business performance and profitability.

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