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Zenith Bank Plc: Earnings Beat as Forex Income Spike Dwarfs Huge Provision



zenith bank plc

By Vetiva Research

  • High interest rate environment lifts top line despite flat loan growth
  • Elevated OPEX and Interest cost persist
  • Provision in Power and Telecom assets pressure asset quality

Marked deviations from estimates as earnings beat

Zenith Bank released its audited H1’17 result posting marked deviations from our expectations across most line items. Notably, following a 58% q/q rise in Gross Earnings in Q2’17 standalone, the top line rose 77% y/y to ₦380 billion for the H1’17 period – beating our ₦282 billion estimate.

Particularly, despite a 3% decline in loans and advances, Interest Income rose 45% y/y to ₦262 billion (Vetiva: ₦226 billion) – supported by a strong interest rate environment. In the same vein, Interest Expense spiked 127% y/y to ₦123 billion following a significant uptick in cost of funds (H1’17: 6.4% vs. H1’16: 3.2%) – coming in higher than our ₦89 billion estimate.

Consequently, Net Interest Margin moderated 40bps y/y to 7.7% (Q1’17: 8.7%). More conspicuously, Non-Interest Income rose to ₦118 billion (H1’16: ₦34 billion) – dwarfing our ₦55 billion estimate.

Particularly, the bank recorded an FX trading income of ₦46 billion – largely driven by income from forward contracts within the period. Also, T-bills trading income rose significantly to ₦18.8 billion from ₦2.2 billion in the prior year.

Fee and commission income growth however came in more modest, up to ₦38 billion from the ₦31 billion recorded in H1’16.

Amidst rising NPL ratio (H1’17: 4.3% vs. Q1’17: 3.2%), ZENITHBANK reported a significant rise in loan loss provision, up 198% y/y to ₦42 billion vs. our ₦16 billion estimate. According to management, the increase in impairment charge was largely driven by higher provisioning across the Power and Telecoms sectors.

We recall that ZENITHBANK had the highest exposure to Etisalat and believe the bank must have taken a conservative approach to make provision for a portion of their exposure to the telecoms company.

Despite this, Operating Income rose 47% y/y to ₦215 billion–22% ahead of our ₦176 billion estimate.

Surprisingly however, Operating Expense rose substantially in Q2’17, up 54% q/q – a trend management attributed to inflation and currency pressure despite a relatively more stable FX environment and a sticky downward inflationary trend within the period.

Notwithstanding, PAT rose to ₦75 billion – beating our ₦65 billion estimate.

We highlight that ZENITHBANK restated its prior year’s profit, expensing an AMCON levy of ₦9.4 billion which had previously been capitalized.

Hence H1’16 PAT was restated to ₦35.5 billion (Previous: ₦44.8 billion).

Overall, the Board declared an interim dividend of ₦0.25 per share – same as prior year and in line with our estimate.

Earnings revised higher on higher interest rates

We have updated our model to reflect the marked deviations across most line items. Whilst we cut our loan growth forecast for FY’17 to a mild 2% (Previous: 8%), we raise our Interest Income estimate to ₦535 billion (Previous: ₦452 billion) – supported by the strong interest rate environment.

Similarly, we raise our Interest Expense forecast for FY’17 to ₦245 billion (Previous: ₦178 billion), pressured by the elevated funding cost.

Also, following the outperformance in H1’17, we revise our Non-Interest Income higher to reflect the spike in FX income from forwards and futures transaction recorded in Q2’17. Despite the raise, we remain conservative about the persistence of this income line in the coming quarters and taper down the run rate for the year.

Driven by the impairment in asset quality observed over the second quarter, we double our loan loss provision expectation for FY’17 to ₦66 billion (H1’17: ₦42 billion) – translating to a cost of risk of 2.9%. Furthermore, in line with the trend observed in Q2’17, we raise our Operating Expense estimate to ₦254 billion (Previous: ₦191 billion). Overall, our PAT forecast is raised to ₦143 billion (Previous: ₦131 billion).

We revise our target price to ₦30.73 (Previous: ₦28.00)

Whilst we see the recent uptick in NPL ratio (H1’17: 4.3% vs. Q1’16: 3.2%) as a pressure point for earnings in the coming quarters following the restructuring of Etisalat’s loan exposure and the subsequent takeover, we highlight ZENITHBANK’s impressive liquidity and capital ratios.

With capital adequacy and liquidity ratios of 21% and 61% (regulatory benchmark of 15% and 30%) respectively, we believe the bank is well positioned to take advantage of the market opportunities.

Given the earnings outperformance, we revise our target price to ₦30.73 (Previous: ₦28.00). Although we have seen a strong rally in the stock in recent time (ytd return: 63%), we believe the bank remains largely undervalued. ZENITHBANK trades at FY’17 P/B: 1.0x and P/E: 5.8x vs. Tier I banks’ average P/B: 1.1x and P/E: 5.8x respectively.

Source: Vetiva Research

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.


OPEC+ Likely to Keep Output Cut Levels as Group Meets April 3



OPEC Meeting US Stocks

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies (OPEC+) will likely stick to its existing deal to cut oil output at a meeting on Monday, April 3.

According to Reuters, this was said disclosed by five delegates from the producer group after oil prices recovered following a drop to 15-month lows due to banking fears and demand worries.

Brent crude has recovered towards $80 a barrel after falling to near $70 on March 20 as fears ease about a global banking crisis and as a halt in exports from Iraq’s Kurdistan region curbs supplies.

OPEC+ is due to hold a virtual meeting of its ministerial monitoring panel, which includes Russia and Saudi Arabia, on Monday.

The consensus was that Kurdistan curbs and recent price drops were not sufficiently important to affect the overall OPEC+ policy path for 2023.

Kurdistan’s crude oil exports – around 400,000 barrels per day shipped through an Iraqi-Turkey pipeline to Ceyhan and then on tankers to the international markets – were halted late last week by the federal government of Iraq.

Last week, the International Chamber of Commerce ruled in favour of Iraq against Turkey in a dispute over crude flows from Kurdistan. Iraq had argued that Turkey shouldn’t allow Kurdish oil exports via the Iraq-Turkey pipeline and Ceyhan without approval from the federal government of Iraq.

Talks between officials from Kurdistan and from the Iraq federal government have failed in recent days, but they are set to continue next week.

Three other OPEC+ delegates also told Reuters that any policy changes were unlikely on Monday. After those talks, the next full OPEC+ meeting is not until June.

Last November, OPEC+ reduced its output target by 2 million barrels per day – the largest cut since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The same reduction applies for the whole of 2023.

Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, has said OPEC+ will stick to the reduced target until the end of the year.

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Oando to Quit Nigerian, Johannesburg Stock Exchanges



oando nigeria

By Dipo Olowookere

The board of Oando Plc has informed the investing community of its intention to leave the Nigerian and Johannesburg stock exchanges in the coming months.

The reason for exiting the stock market, according to the energy firm, is to become a private company and to achieve this, its core investor, Ocean and Oil Development Partners Limited (OODP), has offered to buy all the shares held by minority shareholders in Oando.

OODP is offering to pay N7.07 in cash or its equivalent in South African Rand (ZAR) for each of the stock, which it said represents a 58 per cent premium to the last traded share price of Oando on Tuesday, March 28, 2023, being the day prior to the date it submitted the scheme application to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Oando trades its shares on the floors of the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).

This news comes hours after the company announced that it had bounced back into profitability after years of dishing out losses to the frustration of shareholders.

In its unaudited financial results for 2021, Oando reported a profit after tax of N34.7 billion, in contrast to the loss after tax of N140.7 billion of the preceding year.

Before now, Oando has had it rough with regulators in Nigeria, leading to its suspension from the market and a court tussle over allegations that it tampered with its financial statements to deceive investors.

In the notice released this week, Oando said after the acquisition of “the shares of all minority shareholders in Oando,” it would “subsequently be delisted from NGX and JSE and re-registered as a private company.”

At the moment, the energy firm said it has “applied for the SEC’s No Objection to the scheme, noting that the deal is “subject to the approval of the shareholders of Oando at the Court-Ordered Meeting of the company, as well as the sanction of the Federal High Court.”

However, it disclosed that, “The terms and conditions of the transaction will be provided in the scheme document, which will be dispatched to all shareholders following the receipt of an order from the Federal High Court to convene a Court-Ordered Meeting,” promising to update the market “upon receipt of requisite approvals from shareholders and regulators.”

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Ajay Banga to Become World Bank President Unopposed



Ajay Banga World Bank

By Adedapo Adesanya

The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors has announced Mr Ajay Banga, a US national, as the only nominee for the position of the bank’s next president and may clinch the post if he passes the next hurdle.

This was contained in a statement issued by the World Bank on Friday.

“The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors today confirmed that, as announced on February 22, the period for submitting nominations for the position of the next President of the World Bank Group closed on Wednesday at 6:00 pm ET.”

“The board received one nomination and would like to announce that Ajay Banga, a US national, will be considered for the position.

“In accordance with established procedures, the Board of Executive Directors will conduct a formal interview with the candidate in Washington D.C., and expect to conclude the Presidential election in due course,” the board said.

US President Joe Biden in February nominated Mr Banga to lead the World Bank, saying he is “well equipped” to lead the global institution at “this critical moment in history.”

No other country proposed an alternate candidate for the prestigious post.

Mr Banga, 63, was born in India and is a naturalised US citizen. He has led Mastercard Inc and now currently serves as Vice Chairman at General Atlantic.

If confirmed, Mr Banga would become the first-ever Indian-American to head either of the two top international financial institutions, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

Mr Banga is expected to replace the current World Bank president, Mr David Malpass, who will step down in June, nearly a year before his term is scheduled to expire.

Mr Malpass faced strong criticism over the bank’s commitment to climate action and over his personal views on climate change.

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