BENDIGO and Adelaide Bank has announced its interim result, with Managing Director Mike Hirst stating the bank is moving into an exciting new phase.
The bank made a statutory profit after tax of $180.7 million for the six months ending 31 December 2013.
Underlying cash earnings were $185.9 million, an increase of 9.5 per cent on the prior corresponding period.
Cash earnings per share were 45 cents, up 7.4 per cent.
The bank has also announced an interim dividend of 31 cents per share (fully franked), up 1 cent, in line with the 2013 final dividend.
Mr Hirst said the consequences of a low-growth environment were reflected in the result, but were balanced by the work completed over the past few years on strengthening the bank’s balance sheet.
“We’re seeing low growth due to subdued demand and an increase in people making additional efforts to pay down their debt. This is most evident in our mortgage and our Rural Bank portfolios,” Mr Hirst said.
“While this impacts the bank’s growth, this is fantastic for our customers as they’re building equity and greater financial wealth.
“It also means we’re seeing low levels of arrears in the book - a natural outcome of people making additional repayments,” he said.
Mr Hirst said the bank had seen good margin growth, driven by the strength of the funding side of the business.
“Deposits are at pleasing levels and wholesale markets are working well. We have a lot of flexibility in how we fund our business and this is reflected in our increased margin.
“Cost-control is a relatively positive story and our people have embraced continuous improvement across the business.
"This activity is not only driving efficiencies, it’s delivering a better customer experience,” he said.
Mr Hirst highlighted the bank is continuing to invest in new growth opportunities.
“Earlier in the month the Prime Minister helped us officially open our new Adelaide office, which is a significant sign of our commitment to South Australia and the more than 1300 people we employ in that state.
“We’ve implemented a new website, made upgrades to our Third Party Lending systems and several innovative projects in the digital space will thrill customers and make banking with us even easier when they are launched.
“We also continue to work towards Basel II advanced accreditation - a project that will drive benefits right across our business,” he said.
Mr Hirst said the bank had spent the past few years laying strong foundations for future growth.
.“We’ve moved from consolidation to strengthening and now we’re entering an investment phase.
“This is a very exciting time for our bank, we’ve made the appropriate changes to our business and we’ve been rewarded with rating upgrades and strong balance sheet growth.
“We’ve strengthened our business and it’s now more diversified through the acquisitions we have made over the last few years.
“We look forward to continuing to work with our staff, customers, partners and shareholders as we to strive to be Australia’s leading customer-connected bank.”
When talking about the outlook for the bank, Mr Hirst said he didn’t expect any significant change in operating conditions.
“Things should remain stable although I expect the focus of competition to shift from deposits to assets.
"Given how well our brand resonates with our customers and communities, our bank will be able to compete effectively in this environment.
“Our new loan approvals grew strongly half on half as we increased our customer base.
“We continue to lead customer satisfaction and advocacy and this isn’t limited to our retail brand.
“It also covers Business Banking where we were voted the Best Business Bank for nine out of 12 months in 2013 and in Wealth our SmartStart Super was awarded a five-star rating by CANSTAR.
“Demand for our offering remains strong and we will build upon this momentum.”