Commonwealth Bank is expected to unveil another record first-half profit next week when it becomes the first of the big four to report results since last year’s out-of-cycle mortgage rate hikes.
Australia’s largest home lender lifted its variable mortgage rates for investors and then owner-occupiers as part of its response to increased capital requirements from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, forcing customers to wear some of the cost of maintaining profit growth.
The bank’s results for the six months to December 31, the period covering those hikes, are out on Wednesday and analyst consensus is for roughly a three per cent increase in cash profit to about $4.77 billion.
“No nasty surprises,” Morningstar analyst David Ellis said.
“The words `steady’ and `stable’ and `moderate’ will be liberally applied, and I think you’ll see surprising strength in the underlying business.”
Both JP Morgan and Morningstar predict home loan growth of about six per cent annualised, contributing strongly despite property prices losing momentum after years of supercharged growth.
“You’ve got a pretty good story for loan growth and deposit growth. Not ridiculously strong: just a good solid story,” Mr Ellis said.
“Margins should be a little better due to the repricing last year.”
Commonwealth Bank followed ANZ’s lead in July when it pushed up its standard variable rate for investor loans, raising it by 27 basis points.
It then lifted its standard variable rate for owner-occupiers by 0.15 percentage points, the hike kicking in on November 20 – two weeks after CBA lifted first quarter cash profit four per cent to $2.4 billion.
In a recent note to investors, JP Morgan analyst Scott Manning said he expects cash earnings of $4.74 billion – a 2.6 per cent increase on $4.62 billion for the prior corresponding period – but that the interim dividend would remain flat at $1.98 to absorb the impact of August’s $5.1 billion rights issue.
Bell Potter has flagged a $2.12 per share dividend based on cash profit of $4.77 billion.
Analysts agree that further large-scale capital raisings by the big four banks are unlikely unless APRA adopts a tougher stance, but that they will further bolster capital reserves in other ways.
CBA, National Australia Bank, ANZ and Westpac – who all raised investor and owner-occupier rates between July and November – raised about $17 billion in fresh equity between them in 2015.
“Particularly Westpac and CBA as the biggest two retail banks will make sure there’s product repricing to enable them to maintain relatively stable and high returns to shareholders,” Mr Ellis said.
“Shareholders are wearing some of the pain but I think on balance customers are going to have to pay for the much stronger financial system.”
NAB will provide its first quarter trading update on February 16, with ANZ to follow a day later. Westpac is due to release its half year results on May 2.
CBA’S RECENT FIRST-HALF RESULTS
* 1H15 – cash profit: $4.62bn; interim dividend: $1.98
* 1H14 – cash profit: $4.27bn; interim dividend: $1.83
* 1H13 – cash profit: $3.78bn; interim dividend: $1.64
* 1H12 – cash profit: $3.58bn; interim dividend: $1.37
* 1H11 – cash profit: $3.34bn; interim dividend: $1.32