Johannesburg - Absa Group [JSE:ASA], the South African bank
majority owned by Barclays, reported a better-than-expected 19% rise in
first-half profit on Tuesday, helped by a decline in bad loan charges and
rising income from transactions.
South Africa's largest retail lender said diluted headline
earnings per share totalled 638.5 cents in the six months to end-June, from
535.9c a year earlier.
The results compare with an expected 619c, according to the
average of two analyst estimates taken by Thomson Reuters.
SA banks were hit hard by a 2009 recession that sparked a
million job losses, eroded corporate demand for loans and left houses with
Like its rivals in Africa's top economy, Absa's recovery has
been slow as costs continue to rise and bad debts remain a concern. It has been
on a push to rein in costs and take a cautious lending stance.
It is also looking to more business in Africa with parent
Barclays. The two last month combined their African operations through a joint
Net interest income, a measure of earnings from lending,
totalled R11.62bn compared with R11.29bn a year earlier.
Absa rival Nedbank Group [JSE:NED] posted a 26% rise in
first-half earnings on Monday.
Absa shares are down 5% so far this year, making it the
second-biggest decliner among Johannesburg's index of bank stocks.