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DBS CEO sanguine on 2020 outlook

DBS GROUP Holdings Ltd. expects profit will keep growing next year despite mounting headwinds, after Southeast Asia’s biggest bank posted better-than-estimated results in the third quarter.

Net income increased 15% from a year earlier, buoyed by higher income from loans, wealth and trading, the results showed Monday. Chief Executive Officer Piyush Gupta said he sees “low single-digit growth” for revenue and profit in 2020 as falling interest rates crimp loan profitability.

Singapore’s lenders are contending with an economic slowdown that is putting a strain on credit demand and loan quality. But the nation’s biggest banks are still benefiting from their wealth businesses, which they have been expanding in recent years as the number of rich Asians increases.

“Overall, a decent set of results,” Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analysts including Melissa Kuang wrote in a note. Non-interest income was “robust” and net interest margins “held up better than expectations despite lower interest rates.”

Shares of DBS fell 0.5% in morning trading as the benchmark Straits Times Index declined 0.7%. The stock has gained about 12% this year, outperforming local rivals Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. and United Overseas Bank Ltd.

DBS’s net interest margin will slide about seven basis points next year given the effect of central bank rate cuts, Gupta said. The measure of loan profitability dropped one basis point last quarter from three months earlier, to 1.9%.

“Our transformed franchise, nimble execution and balance sheet strength will put us in good stead to deliver healthy shareholder returns despite the prevailing macroeconomic and geopolitical headwinds,” the CEO said in a statement.

Next year’s earnings will be driven by fee income and stable loan growth, he said at a news briefing.

Gupta was also positive about prospects for DBS’s business in Hong Kong despite the lingering unrest there, saying the bank will continue to benefit from China’s capital markets activity. Still, while third-quarter results there were “remarkably resilient,” an uncertain outlook prompted the lender to double provisions in the city, he said.

“Given the environment, you don’t know what’s coming down the pipe and we said we’ll put some money aside just in case,” he said. — Bloomberg

The post DBS CEO sanguine on 2020 outlook appeared first on BusinessWorld.

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