Fri, Jul 29, 2005 - Page 10 News List

Chinatrust earnings jump by 23%

PERFORMANCE The nation's sixth-largest lender outperformed the competition in the first half, driven by a surge in the retail banking and credit card sectors

By Amber Chung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinatrust Financial Holding Co (中信金控), the nation's sixth largest financial service provider, could be the most lucrative finance sector target for investors as the company yesterday said it posted the highest first-half after-tax earnings per share (EPS) among the nation's 14 financial holdings.

During the first six months of the year, Chinatrust Financial saw after-tax earnings jump by 23 percent year-on-year to NT$9.83 billion, which is equivalent to NT$1.63 per share -- the highest EPS compared to its 13 competitors -- the company's chief financial officer Perry Chang (張明田) said at a press briefing yesterday.

"The impetus mainly came from rising sales of net interest income and fee income, driven by continuously increasing lending as well as retail banking and the credit card business," Chang said.

The lender's loans grew by 19 percent from a year ago to NT$880.2 billion in the January to June period while sales of retail banking and credit card businesses shot up by 35 percent and 14 percent year-on-year to NT$1.13 billion and NT$3.87 billion, respectively.

Looking ahead, the financial holding firm expects overall earnings in the second half to grow by over 10 percent on the back of the nation's economic rebound, Chang said.

But the company remained cautious about the uncertainties, such as rising crude oil prices and possible further appreciation of the Chinese yuan that would negatively affected the nation's economy, he added.

Nevertheless, the shrinking syndicate loan market and a potential rise in bad loans from credit card business could be the downside to the lender's outlook in the second half, Chu Yu-chun (朱玉君), a finance sector analyst with SinoPac Securities Corp (建華證券), said in a report released in May.

In addition, the financial regulator's plan to narrow the spread between revolving interest rates of credit cards and local banks' deposit rates is also expected to have a negative impact on Chinatrust Financial, Chu said.

After its acquisition of Grand Commercial Bank (萬通銀行) in 2003 and Fengshan Credit Cooperative (鳳山信合社) last year, which has boosted its number of outlets to 111, Chinatrust Financial reportedly is interested in taking over state-run Taiwan Business Bank (台灣企銀), which has 125 branches nationwide and 4.5 percent market share.

The company however remained evasive about the deal. Chang said they would deliberate on any possible takeover based on a fair price but declined to comment on single case.

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