DBS Posts 20% Gain in 2nd-Quarter Profit 

(Bloomberg) -- DBS Group Holdings Ltd. shares fell after second-quarter results suffered from what Chief Executive Officer Piyush Gupta described as the worst performance in its treasury and markets operation since he took the top job almost a decade ago.

While net income rose 20 percent to S$1.37 billion ($1 billion) in the three months ended June, that missed analysts’ expectations for S$1.44 billion. Shares in Southeast Asia’s largest lender slid as much as 3 percent, the biggest intraday decline since July 6.

Volatility in Asian bond markets as result of U.S.-China trade tensions together with a flattening yield curve caused losses in the bank’s credit trading portfolio, Gupta said at a post-earnings press conference. That combined with the selloff in Asian equity markets during the quarter to create “a perfect storm in some ways,” Gupta said.

DBS, the first of the three large Singapore banks to report second-quarter results, said it benefited from rising interest rates in Singapore and Hong Kong, and fee income from its expanding wealth management operations. But that was overshadowed by the effect of market volatility on the treasury and markets division, which reported a S$50 million pretax loss for the quarter.

“This has actually been the worst quarter from Treasury Markets since I’ve been with DBS,” Gupta said.

Spreads on Asia’s dollar bonds widened by 60.7 basis points during the second quarter, the biggest quarterly spike since 2013, according to a Bloomberg Barclays index, as China defaults hurt investor sentiment and the Federal Reserve’s tightening cycle pressured credit markets globally.

“While trading income was expected to decline, it came down by much more than expectation,” Marcus Chua, an analyst at Nomura Singapore Ltd., said Thursday in a report. “As long as market sentiments remain weak, we should continue to see trading income pressure for the second half of 2018."

Gupta said he expects the growth of exchange-traded funds and high-frequency trading to depress the bank’s income from treasury and markets over the longer term. The division is likely to generate around S$250 million per quarter, down from between S$250 million and S$300 million in the past, Gupta said.

Earnings Highlights:

  • Net interest margin gained 11 basis points from a year earlier to 1.85 percent
  • Loans expanded 12 percent to S$338.1 billion
  • Wealth management fees increased 22 percent to S$300 million
  • Return on equity at 11.8 percent from 10.1 percent a year ago
  • Nonperforming loan ratio rose to 1.6 percent from 1.5 percent
  • Net trading income down 23 percent at S$227 million
  • Net income from investment securities slumped 68 percent to S$30 million
  • Cost-to-income ratio increased to 44.3 percent
  • First half dividend of 60 Singapore cents, up from 33 cents a year ago
  • Gupta, who became CEO in November 2009, also cautioned about heightened macroeconomic uncertainty resulting from rising U.S.-China trade tensions. Loan growth this year is now forecast at between 6 percent and 7 percent, down from the earlier 8 percent projection, “due mostly to trade loans,” the bank said.

    DBS’s net interest margin for the year is likely to be one to two basis points above the previous guidance of 1.85 percent, as a result of higher U.S. rates, Gupta said. Another bright spot is the bank’s wealth management operation, where assets under management rose 4 percent from the previous quarter.

    “Overall results were decent, although not everything was shiny," said Kevin Kwek, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein in Singapore. “On the positive side, on-year loan growth was strong at 12 percent, allaying fears around the impact of trade wars and Singapore property measures, with business momentum that the bank described as strong, including in wealth management."

    DBS traded 2.2 percent lower at S$26.34 at 2:21 p.m. in Singapore, paring this year’s gain to 6 percent. That compares with a 3.5 percent decline in the benchmark Straits Times Index.

    ©2018 Bloomberg L.P.