A notable increase across the key income streams of Zenith Bank in the year to June could not boost its bottom line as much as it did revenue, its audited financials issued on Tuesday shows, echoing the notion that growth in the time of persistent inflation does not always help profit.
The financial institution, currently Nigeria’s biggest lender by market value, posted a 17.1 per cent jump in revenue to N404.8 billion compared to the same period of last year.
More than half of that was contributed by interest and similar income, which improved by 18.5 per cent, while earnings from fees and commission jumped to N64.4 billion, accelerating by 35.2 per cent.
Zenith Bank realised N25.9 billion more from trading gains than the N59.3 billion reported a year ago as banks turn to lower-yielding but less risky assets like bonds and treasury to soften the impact of impaired credit on earnings.
But its impairment charge still surged by nearly one-third, and that was one out of many pressure points for income. South West Nigeria accounted for 87.6 per cent of the bank’s impaired loans during the period.
Operating expenses climbed to N130 billion compared to N117.1 billion in the same period, no thanks to Nigeria’s implacable inflation, which last month soared to a level last seen almost seventeen years ago.
Spending on information technology, fuel & maintenance as well as the statutory payment made by banks to Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria contributed most to this cost category.
Profit before tax stood at N130 billion, 11.1 per cent higher than last year’s, while after-tax profit rose only by 5 per cent.
In a separate document, Zenith Bank stated it would pay shareholders whose names appear on its register of members an interim dividend of N0.30 per share. That is equivalent to a payout of N9.4 billion.
Shares in Zenith Bank added 0.68 per cent at N22 per unit in Lagos on Tuesday.