Access Bank rallies as shareholders get N5.7b interim dividend

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ACCESS Bank Plc was a major contrarian stock in the negative trading at the Nigerian stock market yesterday as the top-tier commercial bank released its half-year earnings report, showing impressive growths across key fundamentals.

On the strength of the six-month earnings, which saw 43 per cent growth in gross earnings and 39 per cent in profit after tax, the board of the bank has recommended distribution of N5.72 billion as interim dividend to shareholders. The breakdown of the dividend recommendation indicated that shareholders on the register of the bank as at the close of business on September 3, 2015 would receive a dividend per share of 25 kobo. More than 830,000 shareholders would benefit from the interim dividend, which becomes payable on September 10, 2 105.

Against the average decline of 0.98 per cent, Access Bank’s share price rose by 4.91 per cent, the fourth highest percentage gain, to close at N4.29 as the news made the round at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

Key extracts of the audited report for the six-month ended June 30, 2015 showed that gross earnings rose by 43 per cent to N168.3 billion in first half 2015 as against N117.9 billion recorded in comparable period of 2014. The top-line was boosted by an 18 per cent increase in interest income to N98.9 billion in the first half of 2015 compared with N83.6 billion in the comparable period of 2014. Group profit before tax leapt by 44 per cent to N39.1 billion as against N27.1 billion in previous year while profit after tax grew by 39 per cent to N31.3 billion in first half 2015 compared with N22.6 billion in first half 2014.

Non-interest income had risen by 101 per cent to N69.4 billion in first half 2015 as against N34.6 billion in first half 2014. Return on average equity improved to 21.6 per cent in first half 2015 from 16.5 per cent in 2014.

Group managing director, Access Bank Plc, Mr. Herbert Wigwe said the results reflect the bank’s concerted efforts to deliver on its growth objectives for 2015.

According to him, while the first half of the year was defined by significant macro-economic and policy headwinds with major impact on all aspects of its business, the group despite those challenges reported improved profits in the first half of the year with significant contributions from its securities trading business.

He commended the strong support from shareholders of the bank noting that the success of the recently concluded rights issue which raised N41.8 billion has placed the bank in a stronger position.

“With our capital position secure, our priority will be to focus on; driving migration of our customers to alternative platforms to boost profitability of our channels; implementing our customer service improvement initiatives; generating low-cost liability from continued engagement with customers; growing risk assets by deepening market share in target sectors; optimising and improving penetration of our customers’ value chain and driving operational efficiency through cost containment and procurement optimization measures,” Wigwe said.