Ecobank In Trouble Waters As Profits Dwindle …Customers, Shareholders Panic

All seems not to be going well with Ecobank financially as you read and this is said to be given its shareholders and customers a very big concern as deposits and revenues have dropped for the bank.

Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), going by the setback it recorded in its core banking operations, which whittled down its finances in the third quarter ended September 30, 2019. Though Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI) grew its third quarter earnings by 7 percent with net profit up 4 percent, the marginal growth did not come as a result of its core banking services as net interest income dipped 9 percent while non-interest income only grew 12 percent. The bank fell short of key performing parameters for deposit money banks in the review period with deposits from customers dropping by 3 percent while loans and advances to customers declined by 6 percent.

Total assets dropped by 0.6 percent while total equity remained unchanged in the review period. Also, earnings per share (EPS) dropped by 8 percent.

Financial Highlights

Gross earnings recorded a marginal growth of 7 per cent from about N573billion in third quarter ended September 30, 2018 to about N611billion in the same period in 2019.

The ability of the bank to generate revenue improved by 1 per cent as revenue increased from N419billion in Q3, 2018 to N423billion as of September 30, 2019. Operating profit before impairment losses recorded a drop to the tune of 13 percent from N163billion in Q3, 2018 to N142billion in the same period in 2019.

Before tax deduction, profit increased by 14 percent from N96billion as of September, 2018 to N109billion as at September 30, 2019 while profit for the period (net profit) increased by 4 per cent at N78.8billion compared with N75.8billion recorded in the same period in 2018.

The bank’s balance sheet recorded a dismal performance as assets portfolio sheds weight by 0.6 percent from N8.22trillion in September 2018 to N8.17trillion as of September 30, 2019. Total equity remained almost fixed at N660.22billion from N660.07billion in September, 2018.

The bank could not grow its deposits portfolio in the review as year-on-year performance recorded a 3 per cent drop.

As of September 30, 2019 deposits from customers dropped to N5.63trillion from N5.80trillion in the preceding third quarter.

In the same vein, loans and advances portfolio declined 6 percent as the bank decided to cut down on advancing credit to its customers contrary to the directive of the central bank that deposit money banks should increase lending to small and medium enterprises and individuals to accelerate economic growth.

The bank’s loans and advances to customers compared to its deposits base stood at about 56 per cent as at September 30, 2019. It dropped from N3.34trillion in September 2018 to N3.15trillion as of nine months ended September 30, 2019.

Earnings per share from continuing operations attributable to owners of the parent during the period (expressed in kobo per share) stood at about 227.4kobo, dropping 8 percent from 246kobo in the same period the preceding year.

A breakdown of the bank’s earnings portfolio showed that income from core banking operations in the review nine months period dropped by 9 per cent as net interest income stood at N196billion compared to N215billion recorded in the preceding nine months period.

Interest expense, which increased by 27 per cent YoY made a mockery of the 5 per cent increase in interest income as at end of September 2019. Interest expense rose to N177billion in 2019 from N139billion in 2018 while interest income moved up from N354billion in 2018 to N373billion in 2019.

Non-interest revenue on the other hand gained 12 per cent with fee and commission income and net trading income being biggest contributors. Meanwhile, fee and commission expenses which declined by 34 percent, from (N14.86billion) in September 2018 to (N9.8billion) as at September 30, 2019, boosted non-interest revenue which stood at N227billion in 2019 compared to N203billion amassed in September 2018.

It’s obvious that the management of ETI must device means to reduce cost, if the bank must move up on the ladder of profitability and be able to compete effectively in its industry. Whilst operating income grew only by 1 per cent as of September 30, 2019, operating expenses moved up 10 per cent.

The condensed unaudited consolidated statement of comprehensive income of the bank presented to the Nigerian Stock Exchange for the financial period ended September 30, 2019 showed that operating expenses grew by 1 percent to N423billion from N419billion in the same period in 2018 while operating expenses jumped 10 per cent from N256billion in September 2018 to about N281billion in the same period in 2019.

•Adapted from a THISDAY report.