ANZ lifts dividend as H1 profit rebounds

ANZ has posted a sharp rebound in first-half profit and boosted its dividend, helped by a recovery among business customers and robust activity in the housing market.

Australia's fourth largest lender on Wednesday reported cash profit for the six months to March 31 more than doubled from a year ago to $2.99 billion.

Statutory net profit also jumped, nearly doubling from a year ago to $2.94 billion as the bank wound back almost $500 million in provisions due to improving credit conditions.

ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott said the bank was in a strong position, both financially and operationally, with all parts of the business performing well.

"We're very proud of the fact that we've been able to ... stand by customers, get things done for them in a really unusual set of circumstances," he said.

"So it's a really good result for the time, but we think we can do better."

ANZ said it was seeing solid activity in the housing market, adding 92,000 new loans during the six months.

That helped it edge ahead of National Australia Bank to third place among home loan lenders, with 14.4 per cent market share. It wrote another 42,000 new loans in New Zealand.

Cash profit in the Australian retail and commercial bank operations rose 49 per cent to $1.6 billion.

Net interest margin - income versus the cost of a loan - was at 1.63 per cent amid falling interest rates, down from 1.69 per cent a year ago.

Common Equity Tier 1 Ratio - a key measure of stability - improved to 12.4 per cent from 10.8 per cent a year ago.

The bumper half-year numbers are broadly in line with analyst expectations of a $3 billion cash profit, and come despite ANZ last week outlining charges worth $817 million related to writedown of investments, goodwill and customer compensation.

Shares in the bank were, however, down 1.8 per cent to $28.30 by 1215 AEST.

ANZ's profit had plunged last year after it was forced to make higher provisions to cover for the potential impact from the COVID-19 disruptions, which also forced it to scrap shareholder payouts.

The bank has now wound back almost $500 million of those provisions as a result of the improving economic outlook over the course of the half-year.

"While many households and businesses are still doing it tough, Australia and New Zealand are emerging from the sharpest contraction in economic activity in a generation quicker and stronger than many believed possible," Mr Elliott said.

But, significant uncertainty remained, he added.

ANZ's half-year result mirrors the sharp gain in bigger rival Westpac's profits earlier this week. Westpac had also unveiled plans to cut costs over three years to help sustain the margins, and on Wednesday, ANZ followed suit.

It will cut $900 million in costs over the next two years, mainly through technology modernisation and faster transaction processing.

ANZ declared a better-than-expected first-half dividend of 70 cents a share. It had scrapped an interim dividend due to the economic uncertainty last year.

ANZ FIRST-HALF REBOUND

* Operating income down 6.0pct to $8.37bn

* Cash profit up 225pct to $2.99bn

* Net profit up 90pct to $2.94bn

* Interim dividend 70 cents/sh vs NIL.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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