Standard Bank Group Ltd (SBK)., Africa’s largest lender, said full-year profit rose 22 percent after the company cut costs and increased lending.
“Our efforts to control cost growth across the group as a whole were balanced with our strategic priority to invest for growth in markets such as Angola, Kenya and Nigeria,” the bank said in the statement.
Standard Bank may retain more of its earnings in future as asset growth increases after keeping its dividend unchanged between 2007 and 2010, it said. Net income climbed to 13.2 billion rand ($1.7 billion) from 10.8 billion rand a year earlier, the Johannesburg-based lender said in a statement today. The dividend increased 10 percent to 4.25 rand, while earnings per share excluding one-time items grew 21 percent to 8.60 rand, beating the 8.45 rand median estimate of 14 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
Standard Bank two years ago cut about 1,600 jobs to reduce costs and last year reversed its strategy of expanding in emerging markets outside Africa to focus on operations in 17 of the continent’s countries. Lenders including Standard Bank and FirstRand Ltd. (FSR) are also stepping up loans to South Africans without demanding collateral, capturing more low-income customers in a country where about 14 million people don’t have bank accounts.
“We are anticipating subdued revenue growth in 2012 but intend to maintain focus on costs and to drive further improvement in our return on equity,” the lender said. “While an acquisition would make sense in markets where we are not yet at scale, we will primarily concentrate on continuing to grow our businesses organically.”
Standard Bank was the worst-performing stock on the six- member FTSE/JSE Africa Banks Index (JBNKS) last year, sliding 8.2 percent while all other lenders rose. Standard Bank has climbed 9.4 percent this year.