DBS posts record quarterly profit, powered by lending income

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - DBS Group Holdings Ltd, Southeast Asia’s biggest lender, beat market estimates on Monday to post a record quarterly profit, as strong net interest income offset weakness in wealth management, brokerage and investment banking fees.

First quarter profit rose 8.5 percent on a year earlier, while DBS, the first Singapore bank to kick off the sector’s results, said the macro-economic environment had stabilized somewhat.

“We have had a good start to the year as business momentum was sustained and non-interest income recovered from the recent weakness,” CEO Piyush Gupta said in a statement.

Net profit came in at S$1.65 billion ($1.21 billion) for the three months ending March versus S$1.52 billion a year earlier and an average estimate of S$1.48 billion from four analysts, according to Refinitiv I/B/E/S.

After three years of strong loans growth, Singapore’s banks are gearing up for tougher times as the city-state’s export-reliant economy slows, partly due to a trade war between China and the United States, analysts say.

“The record earnings and Return on Equity (ROE) progression demonstrate the strengthened profitability of our franchise from digitalization, a shift towards higher-returns businesses and more nimble execution,” Gupta said.

Net interest margin rose five basis points to 1.88 percent, in line with higher interest rates in Singapore and Hong Kong.

($1 = 1.3615 Singapore dollars)