Daily The Business

Bank Alfalah’s expenses grow too high, profits too low

By M Jahangir Hayat

LAHORE: Bank Alfalah Limited has earned a profit after taxation of Rs 6.209 billion posting a slight growth of 3pc during the half year of 2019 against the profit of Rs 6.038 billion in the same period last year despite the fact that the bank’s mark-up and operating expenses escalated abnormally high by 56.85pc and 19.05pc respectively as compared to the same period last calendar year, the bank’s half yearly accounts indicated.
The Earning Per Share (EPS) stands at Rs. 3.50 (June 2018: Rs. 3.41).

The bank’s profit before taxation for the half year ended 30th June, 2019 is Rs. 11.415 billion as against Rs. 10.008 billion for the corresponding period last year, showing a growth of 14 percent.
Total revenue for the half year ended was reported at Rs. 26.647 billion compared to Rs. 21.016 billion from the corresponding period last year, improving by 27 percent.
Fee and commission income stood 11 percent higher than same period last year primarily driven by income from alternate delivery channels, branchless banking, bancassurance, home remittance, trade commission and card-related fees.
The Bank’s administrative expenses have increased by 19 percent against the previous reporting period.
The bank said that the main factors behind this are annual increments and appraisal cycle, deposit protection insurance which is a new levy, customer promotion costs to tap unbanked segment, investment in digital channels and IT infrastructure, branch expansion, the bank explained the reason.
The bank also undertook a net provision charge of Rs 979. 828 million in the first half of 2019, primarily against equity and advance, versus a net provision reversal of Rs. 850.456 million compared to same period corresponding year.
Last year’s reversal included a reversal of Rs. 443.898 million relating to settlement of a case in Afghanistan. A further nine percent decline in KSE-100 index during 1H19 led to an impairment being booked on a number of equity scripts, it was argued.
The bank Management was of the view that liquidating positions at such depressed levels was not advisable, as better exit points will accrue once economic and political clarity emerges in the second half of the year.
The Bank has managed to adequately cover its non-performing advances of Rs. 17.931 billion and as at 30th June, 2019, the Bank’s provision coverage stands at 89.2 percent, the report said. “Our NPL ratio stood at 3.5 percent which continues to remain one of the lowest infection ratio in the industry,” the bank highlighted.
The Bank continued its focus on increasing no cost deposits and with 16.9 percent growth in non-remunerative current deposits, CASA mix
improved to 82.6 percent as at 30th June, 2019, the bank claimed.
The Bank’s gross advances were reported at Rs. 511.097 billion. The Bank’s strategy is to acquire high quality credit while maintaining a Return on Capital (ROC) benchmark. At the half year end, our gross advances to deposits ratio stands at 69 percent, and remains a leading
indicator for the Bank in the industry, the report said.
The shareholders’ equity improved despite payment of dividend approved by the shareholders in the AGM held in March 2019. At close of first half, the Bank remains adequately capitalised with CAR at 16.84 percent.
Bank Alfalah is well-positioned for sustainable growth and building long-term shareholder value, the report said.
“We will continue to invest in Digital Banking, our technology infrastructure, human ‘capital and strengthening our compliance and controls environment. At the same time, we will continue to focus on building a low cost deposit base, improving the return on capital on risk assets, optimising returns from the banking book and enforcing a strong cost procedure across the bank,” the report concluded.

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