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Singapore banks dial back worst fears; Q3 profit mostly up over the quarter

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Singapore banks posted lower profits for the third quarter of this year from a year ago, as the trio continue to bulk up provisions to cushion against bad loans as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.

SINGAPORE banks posted lower profits for the third quarter of this year from a year ago, as the trio continued to bulk up provisions to cushion against bad loans as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.

While staying cautious, they point to a recovery in business momentum as regional economies emerge from lockdowns, and note that provisions are ample to buffer against uncertainties over the extent of recovery next year.

Shares of the three banks gained strongly on Thursday morning as the results beat estimates, with stocks lifted as well by an overall buoyant market on the US elections.

In a report, Krishna Guha, equity analyst at Jefferies, said: “DBS seems to have better visibility on 2021 growth, OCBC focused on driving long-term sustainable value while UOB is more sanguine on asset quality.”

As at 11.25 am, shares of DBS gained 3.57 per cent to S$22.32, shares of OCBC added 3.48 per cent to S$8.93, while UOB rose 2.73 per cent to S$20.34. 

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DBS

DBS's net profit for its third quarter fell 20 per cent as the bank continued to bulk up allowances from the year-ago period, it said on Thursday. The bank will pay a dividend per share of 18 Singapore cents, unchanged from a quarter ago.

Net profit for the three months ended Sept 30, 2020, stood at S$1.30 billion, compared with S$1.63 billion from the year-ago period. Total income was down 6 per cent, with both net income and fee income hurt, while trading income rose.

Total allowances more than doubled from a year ago to S$554 million for the quarter.

Over the quarter, net profit was up 4 per cent.

In a statement, DBS chief executive officer (CEO) Piyush Gupta said the third-quarter's results reflect a recovery in business momentum as regional economies emerge from lockdowns.

"The rebound in fee income to pre-Covid levels has enabled us to cushion the full impact of lower interest rates. At the same time, the accelerated build-up of allowances has strengthened our ability to meet the challenges of an uneven economic recovery in the coming year."


OCBC

OCBC on Thursday posted a 12 per cent fall in net profit for the third quarter on lower income and on a slight lift in allowances.

Net profit for the three months ended Sept 30, 2020, stood at S$1.03 billion, compared with S$1.17 billion for the year-ago period. Total income was down 4 per cent from the year-ago period.

Total allowances were up by 8 per cent to S$350 million.

Over the quarter, net income jumped 40 per cent on lower allowances.

In a statement, OCBC CEO Samuel Tsien said that while Q3 saw a recovery from the trough of the previous quarter, "we may not have seen the full extent of the lagging economic impact of the crisis yet, which will have more visibility next year".

"In the meantime, we are proactively following and responding to the government relief programme exits in all markets."


UOB

UOB reported on Wednesday a 40 per cent drop in net profit for its third quarter as it built up allowances. Net profit for the three months ended Sept 30, 2020, stood at S$668 million, compared with S$1.12 billion for the year-ago period. Both net income and non-interest income were lower.

An additional S$339 million in allowance for non-impaired assets was set aside to strengthen provision coverage, the bank said.

Over the quarter, net profit was 5 per cent lower, though Q3 operating profit improved 3 per cent compared with Q2.

UOB chief executive Wee Ee Cheong said in a media statement on Wednesday that the economic trajectory remains uneven and unclear, despite early signs of recovery across the global economy.

"Given the evolving geopolitical and pandemic situation, we remain vigilant, especially in our key regional markets. However, our asset quality is manageable and we are adequately provisioned even with the expiry of moratorium programmes across the region," he said.

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