“All three operating franchises continued to achieve good operational performances, despite the deteriorating macroeconomic environment,” said [DATA FSR:FIRSTRAND LTD.] in a statement.
In the six months to 31 December 2013, FirstRand achieved a 20 percent increase in normalised earnings of 8,691 million rand as well as a 20 percent increase in diluted normalised earnings per share from 128.5 cents to 154.2 cents.
The Group's net interest income, or earnings from lending, grew by 22 percent to 12.38 billion rand while net interest income, which includes fees and commissions, increased by 13 percent, due to the growth of new business at FNB, Wesbank and RMB.
The company declared a dividend of 77 cents per ordinary share for the period, reflecting a 40 percent increase.
First National Bank (FNB), their retail and commercial bank, increased pre-tax profits by 22 percent due to a 17 percent increase in net interest income as well as a decrease in bad debts, particularly in residential mortgages.
“This performance can continue to be attributed to FNB's primary strategy to grow and retain core transactional accounts through offering a compelling value proposition to the customer (innovative products and channels at an acceptable cost) supported by rewards programmes, such as eBucks, SLOW lounges and fuel, data and airtime rewards,” explained the company.
“Innovations such as the banking app, cellphone banking and eWallet also continue to attract and retain customers”.
Their African subsidiaries also performed well, growing pre-tax profits by 27 percent. Their established subsidiaries such as Namibia performed particularly strong while the newer subsidiaries, Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania, continued to invest in footprint and product roll-out.
Rand Merchant Bank (RMB), their corporate and investment bank, continues to generate more income from client drives activities as well as by diversifying their banking portfolios. RMB’s pre-tax profits grew by 19 percent to 3.2 billion rand for the period.
WesBank, the instalment finance business, pre-tax profits rose by three percent to 2 billion rand despite higher credit and operating costs.
“This performance was underpinned by strict credit discipline and effective and efficient origination channels,” said the company.
Ashburton Investments, FirstRand’s investment management franchise which launched in June 2013, have grown assets under management by ten percent to 111 billion rand.
(READ MORE: FirstRand launches Ashburton Investments Franchise)
Overall operating cost growth was 14 percent for the period. FirstRand attributes this to their continued investment in FNB’s electronic platforms and the group’s African operating foot print.
The group believes that their franchises will continue to show good operational performances for the second half of the year.