National Australia Bank 3Q Margin Improves, Bad-Debt Charge Falls

By Robb M. Stewart Features Dow Jones Newswires

MELBOURNE, Australia--National Australia Bank Ltd. (NAB.AU) said its lending margin improved on the back of lifted mortgage rates and its charge for soured-loans ticked lower in the recent quarter.

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Net profit was about 1.6 billion Australian dollars (US$1.26 billion) in the three months through June, NAB said on Friday. It didn't provide a year-earlier comparison, yet the unaudited figure is steady on what the bank reported for the same period a year ago.

Revenue for the financial third quarter was up 2% on lending growth and an improved net interest margin, although expenses were also up 2% when compared with the quarterly average of the prior six months, NAB said.

The bank said cash earnings--a measure that excludes some gains and costs and is favored by analysts--was A$1.7 billion for the quarter, up 2% on the prior half-year and 5% ahead of the same period last year.

The bank, one of Australia's largest lenders, said its charge for bad and doubtful debts 12% to A$173 million, reflecting improved asset-quality trends and no repeat of the increase in the collective provision overlay for commercial real estate seen in the first half of the financial year. The ratio of impaired assets and loans 90 days or more overdue to gross loans and acceptances was 0.8% for the third quarter, a decline of 0.05 percentage point from March due mainly to improved conditions for New Zealand dairy farmers.

Since taking over as CEO in August 2014, Andrew Thorburn has refocused the bank on its core franchises in Australia and New Zealand in a bid to catch up to its peers on return on equity. In that time, NAB has spun off and listed CYBG PLC (CYBG.LN), a company housing Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank in the U.K., and sold an 80% interest in its life-insurance business to Nippon Life Insurance Co. It also floated regional U.S. lender Great Western Bancorp Inc. on the New York Stock Exchange.

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Write to Robb M. Stewart at robb.stewart@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 10, 2017 19:01 ET (23:01 GMT)