by Ernie B. Calucag
United Overseas Bank (UOB) posted a 12.1-per cent jump in first-quarter net profit on Wednesday, on the back of higher loans and fee income.
UOB, the smallest of Singapore’s three banking groups, earned S$688.0 million in the three months ending March, up from S$612.0 million a year earlier.
The results were better-than-expected as analysts had earlier expected earnings to be flat.
“Our first quarter results show we have started the year on the right foot. We are executing to plan and we are harnessing our regional footprint and expertise to pursue growth opportunities that are right for our business,” Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Wee Ee Cheong said in a statement.
UOB said the improvement in first quarter earnings was underpinned by higher contributions from all core businesses.
Net interest income, in particular, rose 14.6 per cent to a quarterly record of S$998.0 million; while non interest income climbed 14.3 per cent to S$630.0 million.
“Net interest margin continued to improve, reaching 1.98 per cent,” it said.
UOB is the second of the three Singapore banks to report its first quarter results.
OCBC results are due on May 11, while DBS Bank on April 27 announced a record quarterly net profit of S$933.0 million.
UOB shares have risen about 20 per cent so far this year, double the 10 per cent gain in the benchmark Straits Times Index.
On Wednesday, the bank’s shares went down to S$18.20 each from Tuesday’s S$18.33.