ANZ unveils rise in profit, dividend
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Nicholas Grove is a Morningstar journalist.
Australian and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) has recorded a 6 per cent rise in underlying profit before one-off items to $6 billion for the fiscal year to 30 September 2012, in line with Morningstar and market forecasts.
The bank declared a final dividend of 79 cents a share, which brought the full-year payment to 145 cents a share. The full-year dividend was just 2 cents shy of Morningstar's expectations for a payment of 147 cents a share.
ANZ chief executive officer Mike Smith attributed the performance to the bank's "super-regional" strategy, together with an increased emphasis on productivity improvements.
"Our performance was consistent with the expectations we outlined at the half-year result and in our August trading update," Smith said.
"The results demonstrate continued progress with our super-regional strategy, while also adapting ANZ to the lower-growth environment where tight management of costs and capital is increasingly important.
"While we have continued to invest in our strategy, the increasing focus on productivity has delivered lower cost growth, particularly in the second half where the cost-to-income ratio fell 110 basis points to 45.1 per cent."
Looking forward, Smith said the post-GFC, lower-growth business environment will be here for the "foreseeable future," as will the requirement to operate with higher levels of regulatory capital and higher funding and liquidity costs.
"Although the operating environment in 2013 looks more challenging with stronger headwinds in a number of areas, our unique growth strategy and the momentum we have in adapting to the new environment means we are well-placed to deliver value and performance to shareholders in 2013," he said.
Regardless of the outlook, Morningstar Asia Pacific Equity Research head of financial services David Ellis said the bank was on track for solid near-term earnings growth.
"ANZ is the first of the September year-end major banks to report and did not disappoint," he said.
"Our positive view is intact and we maintain our number-one ranking for the narrow-moat bank," Ellis said, referring to the term used by Morningstar to describe the competitive advantage that one company has over other companies in the same industry.
Another important thing to note, Ellis said, was that ANZ's income growth exceeded cost growth, with its cost-to-income ratio improving slightly from 45.9 per cent to 45.6 per cent.
"This is a major focus for management and further improvement is required to catch up to best-in-peer group Westpac (WBC)," he said.