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ANZ Bank posts 13% gain in first-quarter cash profit on reduced impairments, higher lending

Australia & New Zealand Banking Group posted a 13 percent gain in first-quarter cash profit after recording a lower charge for impaired loans and boosting lending.

Unaudited cash profit was A$1.73 billion in the three months ended Dec. 31, from A$1.53 billion a year earlier, the Melbourne-based lender said in a statement. Cash profit excludes one-time items. Statutory profit increased to A$1.64 billion from A$1.36 billion.

Shares of ANZ have climbed 140 percent on the ASX in the past five years, a period when it has posted record profits. Today, chief executive Mike Smith said revenue growth in 2014 would be 4 percent to 5 percent, outpacing an expected 2 percent rise in expenses. The forecast assumes no change in foreign exchange rates.

In the latest quarter, customer deposits rose 4 percent and loans and advances gained 3 percent, versus the end of the 2013 year. Group net interest margin fell, it said, without giving details. "While ANZ has seen some easing in deposit pricing, this was offset by the ongoing impacts of the lower interest rate environment and some asset pricing pressure which was broadly based," the lender said.

The first-quarter provision charge was A$191 million, down from A$311 million in the same quarter a year earlier.

The lender's ANZ New Zealand unit is this nation's biggest bank. The New Zealand division "continued to grow our home loan book strongly through both business banking and retail channels, with strong performance in the under 80 percent loan to value ratio segment," it said. The bank didn't release a separate statement for the New Zealand business.

(BusinessDesk)