Mediocre Banking Sector Results: NIM And NOII Centre Of Discussion

The banking sector saw a mediocre season with earnings entirely within expectations, this is despite some surprises in tailwinds and headwinds. NIM compression this time was a lot heavier than previously guided for (recall that banks were guiding for “stable-to-minor” compression in 1Q23). NOII improvement was expected, being guided for as a core earnings driver (which came true, but it was unevenly distributed).

MIDF analysts give their guidance for the sector and it’s more skewed towards the negative, largely due to the slower-than-expected NIM recovery and potential asset quality irritation. Nearly all banks revised their NIM guidance downward.

However, on a more positive note, future quarters may see possible positive revisions to NCC guidance (they were initially too conservative). Earnings: Relatively stable, NIM and NOII are central focus. Aggregate Core Net Profit (Core NP) up by +0.6%qoq. It was a good quarter for topline – despite NIM compression, NII largely remained stable to slightly negative while NOII did mostly see solid improvement, mostly on the side of treasury income (though in some cases disappointed).

Provisioning did pick up from last quarter’s softer activity, with a few banks amping up on credit costs for a poorer macroeconomic outlook and asset quality irritation. There was a minor issue of slightly elevated tax rates in the quarter, due to higher provisioning and investment-related gains that are less tax deductible.

As for the balance sheet, growth was poor but expected to pick up. Weaker corporate loan growth offered downside pressure. Retail contributions – particularly solid mortgage and hire purchase growth – were bolstered by strong unsecured loan offerings. Unfortunately, this was not enough to offset weaker growth coming from the non-retail side – though the industry has guided for a much healthier post-election pipeline in 2H, maintaining their far-from-target loan growth forecasts. Deposit growth was more mixed, but liquidity remains ample.

CASA attrition on the other hand took a light breather as pricier FDs matured without renewal but should resume in subsequent quarters. Different banks took different approaches to managing NIM optimisation, hence reporting varying quarterly deposit growth figures.

Increasing impairment pressure within certain brackets, but heavy write-offs keep GILs manageable. Asset
quality pressure mainly came from the residential mortgages and SMEs linked to RA loans, though there was some
irritation already coming from riskier overseas and unsecured segments. Few banks have guided that GIL ratio is close to
peaking (or has already peaked). While LLC values have come down, some banks are looking at chunkier recoveries in the
coming quarters to keep this manageable while refraining from making larger allocations.

Among the banks, Maybank saw an unexpected, massive non-fee income gain within the quarter, CIMB displayed
exceptional performances in almost all aspects, especially loan growth. But Affin saw an abnormally sharp sequential drop in NIMs, which dragged earnings. RHB brought in decent quarterly earnings, but this was largely driven by overlay writebacks – while everything else was lacklustre.

From a pure valuation perspective, BIMB remains the most attractive while Affin is the least. Moving forward, the house is neutral for 2H outlook and doubts that ROE outlook is going to be that much better than 1H. Loan growth outlook is positive – banks are very optimistic about 2H’s non-retail pipeline. NIM outlook is more neutral – i.e. most banks are guiding stable to positive movement, though MIDF is cautious of year-end deposit competition.

On the other hand, more banks are opting for full-cash dividends. BNM doesn’t seem likely to exercise any additional leniency in capital ratio levels soon. Regardless, several banks have already guided for higher dividend payouts and halting DRP programmes – signalling that they are happy with current CET1 levels.

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