Zenith Bank Shares Represent Secure Investment Opportunity –Futureview
Zenith Bank Plc represents a secure investment opportunity in the Nigerian stock market, Futureview Financial Services Limited told MarketForces Africa while reacting to the impacts of the Central Bank of Nigeria ban on FX gains usage by local lenders.
Analysts said the bank’s first half of 2023 demonstrated significant growth compared to the same period in 2022. The Tier-1 Lender experienced substantial increases in interest income, net interest income, and profit before tax.
It was noted that Zenith Bank’s impairment charge increased dramatically, impacting the net interest income after impairment charges. Key financial ratios also saw notable changes.
According to the investment firm, Zenith Bank remains a prominent player in Nigeria’s financial sector and has long been recognized for its diverse array of financial services, encompassing banking, asset management, and international operations.
Despite recent regulatory adjustments, particularly the Central Bank of Nigeria’s ban on utilizing foreign exchange (FX) gains for dividend payments, Futureview analysts said the firm’s perspective on Zenith Bank remains resolute.
The firm maintained that Zenith Bank continues to represent a secure investment opportunity, as do other banking stocks on the exchange. This conviction is underpinned by the notable growth witnessed in their financial performance.
However, analysts said they strongly advise investors to consider the following key details in light of the CBN’s FX gains restriction:
Central Bank of Nigeria’s Ban on FX Gains for Dividend Payment
The CBN’s recent imposition of a ban on the use of FX gains for dividend payments carries substantial implications for banks and their shareholders. Dividend distributions serve as a primary means for banks to share profits with their shareholders.
FX gains have traditionally constituted a significant income source for banks, in accordance with the accounting principles laid out in IFRS 9 and IAS 21 concerning Financial Instruments and the recognition of gains and losses from foreign exchange transactions.
The specific accounting treatment varies, contingent on transaction nature, whether related to trading activities or held-for-investment purposes. Consequently, such a prohibition could curtail banks’ capacity to distribute dividends, especially if a substantial portion of their income emanates from FX gains.
For instance, Zenith Bank’s 2023 Half-Year Financial Statement indicates a 66% decrease in Net Interest Income after Impairment Charge, compared to the 2022 results, declining from N160 billion to N54 billion.
The bottom-line Profit Before Tax exhibited a remarkable 169% increase, primarily attributed to a N356 billion foreign exchange gain in H1 2023, contrasting with N6 billion loss in H1 2022. Analysts said banks may need to explore alternative income sources or dividend payment strategies to fulfil regulatory mandates.
Profit Boom Defies Increasing Costs on the Income Statement
Zenith Bank recorded a substantial increase in interest income, rising from ₦241.73 billion in H1 2022 to ₦415.43 billion in H1 2023, representing a significant growth of 72%. This was attributed to the boost in interest-earning assets and an uptick in interest rates during this period.
The interest expense also surged, increasing from ₦56.98 billion in H1 2022 to ₦153.56 billion in H1 2023, marking a notable 169% growth which was due to higher interest rates and increased liabilities. Despite the huge increase in interest expenses, Zenith Bank managed to grow its net interest income from ₦184.74 billion in H1 2022 to ₦261.86 billion in H1 2023, showing a 42% increase.
Zenith Bank faced a remarkable jump in impairment charges, soaring from ₦25.12 billion in H1 2022 to ₦207.92 billion in H1 2023, which is an alarming 728% increase. This was attributed to the high loans, advance defaults and credit risk.
After accounting for impairment charges, Zenith Bank’s net interest income fell drastically by 66%, from ₦159.62 billion in H1 2022 to ₦53.94 billion in H1 2023. Operating expenses increased moderately by 19% from ₦124.61 billion in H1 2022 to ₦148.00 billion in H1 2023. As we saw, its “Amcon Levy” increased by ₦13 billion.
Zenith Bank reported a significant increase in profit before tax, reaching ₦350.36 billion in H1 2023, a noteworthy 169% growth from ₦130.00 billion in H1 2022. This was attributed to the surge from foreign currency gain of over ₦350 billion.
The income tax expense also surged, growing by 215% from ₦18.59 billion in H1 2022 to ₦58.63 billion in H1 2023. Despite the increased tax expenses, Zenith Bank managed to achieve a 162% growth in profit after tax, rising from ₦111.41 billion in H1 2022 to ₦291.73 billion in H1 2023. Consequently, the Bank’s Earnings Per Share (EPS) experienced a commensurate 162% surge, rising from ₦3.55 in H1 2022 to ₦9.29 in H1 2023.
Asset Base Soars, Bolstering Financial Strength
Zenith Bank’s total assets increased by 58% from ₦10.12 trillion in H1 2022 to ₦16.03 trillion in H1 2023, indicating substantial growth in its asset base. Total liabilities also experienced a significant rise of 61%, increasing from ₦8.84 trillion in H1 2022 to ₦14.25 trillion in H1 2023.
Zenith Bank’s net assets increased by 40%, growing from ₦1.27 trillion in H1 2022 to ₦1.78 trillion in H1 2023. Zenith Bank’s market price per share increased from ₦22.00 in H1 2022 to ₦36.95 in H1 2023, marking a 68% rise in share price.
The net interest margin declined from 76% in H1 2022 to 63% in H1 2023, indicating a decrease in profitability from core banking operations. The operating expense margin also decreased from 52% in H1 2022 to 36% in H1 2023, reflecting improved cost management. Zenith Bank’s net profit margin showed a positive trend, growing from 46% in H1 2022 to 70% in H1 2023, indicating improved profitability.
Return on Average Assets (ROAA) increased from 1% in H1 2022 to 2% in H1 2023, reflecting improved asset utilization. Zenith Bank’s earnings yield rose from 16% in H1 2022 to 25% in H1 2023, suggesting higher returns for investors.
The Price-to-Earnings (P/E) Ratio decreased from 0.06 in H1 2022 to 0.04 in H1 2023, possibly due to the rise in earnings. Zenith Bank’s Return on Equity (ROE) improved from 10% in H1 2022 to 20% in H1 2023, indicating better utilization of shareholders’ equity.
Stellar Half-Year Performance Defies Challenging Macroeconomic Climate
In H1 2023, Zenith Bank PLC exhibited significant growth in various financial metrics, such as profit before tax, total assets, and net profit margin. However, the notable increase in impairment charges and income tax expense raises concerns about credit risk and taxation.
Shareholders should closely monitor these developments while considering the bank’s improved profitability and market performance. Zenith Bank has shown resilience in adapting to changing market conditions, and its strategic decisions will continue to impact its financial performance in the coming quarters. #Zenith Bank Shares Represent Secure Investment Opportunity –Futureview