Wise investment, prudence in interest expense gives Sterling Bank an edge

A well-articulated investment decisions and prudent management of interest expenditure was some of the major reasons Sterling bank was able to rise above the challenges pose by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). It will be recalled that the central bank in a bid to manage the shortfall in flow of foreign exchange occasioned by dwindling income from crude oil sales imposed measures that hurt the banks.
By the end of the financial year ended December 31st 2014, income raised from investments by the bank as well as from other operating sources ensured a 17.9 per cent growth from N21.8 billion in the same period of 2013 to N25.7 billion in 2014.
In the struggle for survival that dominated the banking industry during the year under review, income from interest was able to surpass cost, leaving a sizeable balance that further raised the bank’s income for the year 2014.
Financial result made available to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) indicates that interest income stood at N77.9 billion in 2014, compared with the N70.0 billion realized the previous year. This translates into a 11.4 per cent increase.
On the other hand, interest expense was contained with a mere rise of 2.2 per cent during the period. Interest expense rose marginally N34.2 billion in 2013 to N34.9 billion in 2014.
This left a robust balance of N43.0 billion in 2014, compared with the N35.8 billion the previous, a growth of 20.1 per cent.
Commenting on the results, managing director, Sterling Bank Plc, Mr. Yemi Adeola, said the bank’s performance shows the strengths of its resilient growth model and its ability to continue to deliver value for all stakeholders.
According to him, 2014 was a difficult year in many respects for the Nigerian banking industry as the multiple challenges arising from a weaker macroeconomic environment and the various regulatory responses to them put significant pressure on the margins of banks.
“Despite these pressures, we achieved double-digit earnings growth in line with our medium-term strategic objectives. This performance underscores the commitment of the entire team to our corporate goals and the resilience of our business model,” Adeola said.
He noted that during the year, the Bank initiated the upgrade of its technology infrastructure and the re-engineering, centralization and automation of processes to improve the customer experience while in recognition of the critical role that human capital plays in successfully driving strategy and its execution, it also continued to invest substantially in employee training, talent retention, and the creation of an environment that fosters continuous learning and development.
He assured that going forward; the bank would continue to deliver better values to all stakeholders given the steadiness of its strategic growth plan and its current strong balance sheet position.
Besides, the Sterling Bank boss said the lender would further strengthen its capital base by raising new funds to support its business expansion and enhance its ability to undertake large-ticket transactions.
“While the economic landscape may be challenging, I strongly believe that the bank is on a sound footing, given its stronger capital position, outstanding asset quality and a dedicated workforce to advance its growth plans. Our capital plan remains on track as we advance to the last phase of the capital raising programme, a multicurrency subordinated debt tranche of $200 million,” Adeola said.
Generally, Sterling Bank Plc showed considerable growths with gross earnings rising by some 13 per cent to N103.7 billion. In the same breadth, profit before tax rose by 15.4 per cent to N10.7 billion.
Key extracts of the audited report and accounts of the Bank for the year ended December 31, 2014 released yesterday at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) showed appreciable growths in all key performance indices, sustaining the strong performance outlook of the lender in spite of industry-wide headwinds.
Major highlights showed that net interest income leapt by 20.1 per cent to N43.0 billion in 2014 as against N35.8 billion recorded in 2013. This was driven mainly by 11.4 per cent growth in interest income to N77.9 billion, which far outweighed the 2.2 per cent increase in funding costs to N34.9 billion. This underlined the increasing cost efficiency of the lender as cost of funds had dropped from 6.1 per cent in 2013 to 5.3 percent in 2014. Similarly, non-interest income grew by 18.3 per cent from N21.8 billion in 2013 to N25.7 billion in 2014. This was boosted by 82.2 per cent growth in net trading income to N6.8 billion.
The bank continued to strengthen its mid and bottom-line performances as its increasing focus on cost reduction, credit risks management and operating efficiency cushioned macro headwinds and retained values for shareholders. Net operating income rode on the back of growth in net interest income and a 10.5 per cent reduction in impairment charges to N61.4 billion in 2014, an increase of 24.4 per cent on N49.3 billion recorded in 2013. Meanwhile, operating expenses increased by 26.5 per cent to N50.6 billion in 2014 as against N40 billion in 2013. This was due mainly to on-going investments in branch refits and expansion and rollout of alternative channels as well as regulation-induced cost.
Consequently, profit before tax inched up by 15.4 per cent to N10.7 billion while profit after tax increased by 8.8 per cent to N9 billion. The net profit was impacted by 68.4 per cent increase in income tax expense.
The bank’s balance sheet also emerged stronger. Net loans and advances increased by 15.4 per cent to N371.2 billion in 2014 compared with N321.7 billion in 2013. Customer deposits rose by 15 per cent to N655.9 billion as against N570.5 billion while shareholders’ funds increased by 33.5 per cent from N63.5 billion to N84.7 billion. Total assets closed 2014 at N824.5 billion, representing an increase of 16.5 per cent on N707.8 billion recorded in 2013.

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