Sterling Bank Plc Friday blazed the trails as the first financial company to release its first-half earnings report, indicating that the bank maintained continuing strong momentum in its profitability with 97 per cent growth in profit after tax. The first-half report came on the heels of initial filings showing extensive shareholders’ interests in the bank’s ongoing N12.5 billion rights issue. Sterling Bank is raising N12.5 billion through a rights issue of about 5.889 billion ordinary shares of 50 kobo each at N2.12 per share. Sterling Bank had traded at a high of N3.05 at the stock market. The shares have been pre-allotted on the basis of three new ordinary shares of 50 kobo each for every eight ordinary shares of 50 kobo each held as at May 20, 2013. Application list, which opened on June 24, 2013, will run till July 31, 2013. Interim report and accounts of Sterling Bank for the six-month period ended June 30, 2013 showed that earnings per share doubled to 38 kobo in 2013 as against 19 kobo in comparable period of 2012, underlining the increasing attraction of the bank as a high-yield stock. Investors responded positively to the earnings report as the bank’s share price rose by 0.38 per cent yesterday to N2.67. This implies double-digit six-month earnings yield of 14.2 per cent. The report showed that profit before tax rose by 93.5 per cent to N6.27 billion as against N3.24 billion recorded in corresponding period of 2012. Profit after tax nearly doubled from N3.01 billion to N5.92 billion, representing an increase of 96.7 per cent. The bottom-line performance was driven by the bank’s growing brand acceptability and customers’ deposit as well as efficient cost and risks management. Gross earnings rose by 28 per cent from N32.68 billion to N41.86 billion. While interest income grew by 18 per cent from N26.34 billion to N31.08 billion, net interest income grew faster by 27 per cent to N15.17 billion in 2013 as against N11.96 billion in comparable period of 2012. Key balance sheet items also underscored the continuing fundamental strength of the bank. Total deposits rose by 21 per cent from N466.85 billion recorded as at December 31, 2012, which was the opening figure for this year, to N564.93 billion by June 2013. Within the same period, total assets grew by 19 per cent to N690.84 billion compared with N580.23 billion while shareholders’ funds increased from N46.64 billion to N49 billion. While loans and advances increased by 19 per cent from N229.42 billion to N272.75 billion, the proportion of non-performing loans to gross loans and advances remained checkmated at 2.7 per cent during the period, far better than industry’s benchmark of 5.0 per cent. The first half report showed that the bank have nearly achieved its full-year performance for 2012 within the first half of this year, putting it in good course to achieve its forecasts. The latest report also showed continuation of the good start noted in the first quarter of this year. Sterling Bank’s three-month report for the period ended March 31, 2013 showed that profit after tax rose by 96 per cent while profit before tax increased by 85 per cent. Gross earnings stood at N19.84 billion as against N16.21 billion recorded in comparable period of 2012. Profit before tax jumped from N1.63 billion to N3.02 billion while profit after tax leapt to N2.72 billion as against N1.39 billion. Full-year report for 2012 showed gross earnings of N68.86 billion. Profits and after tax stood at N7.5 billion and N6.95 billion respectively. Commenting on the 2013 first half report, managing director, Sterling Bank, Mr. Yemi Adeola, said the performance of the bank was a reflection of the stability and growth potential of its business strategy. According to him, the bank’s report was as a result of customer winning and cost management strategies, which enabled it to maintain its first quarter earnings momentum. “We are pleased with the report. Over the next six months, our priority is to accelerate our $ 400 million capital raising program, which commenced with overwhelming support from our shareholders for the ongoing rights issue of N12.5 billion ($ 80 million). The next phase of the program includes a $ 120 million private placement and subsequently, a $ 200 million multi-currency tier 2 capital raising exercise. We remain optimistic that our capital plans will be achieved to enable us drive business growth, while delivering superior returns to our shareholders,” Adeola said.
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