Higher Margins

May 08, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Nations Trust Bank (NTB) said group net profit for the March quarter rose 25 percent to 180 million rupees from a year ago. The bottom line was boosted by higher interest income as well as earnings from bond and forex trading although loan growth has slowed.

NTB said in a stock exchange filing that interest income rose 17 percent to three billion rupees while interest expenses went up 11 percent to 2.1 billion rupees, with net interest income rising 37 percent to 905 million rupees.

Analysts said the sharply higher net interest income probably came from wider net interest margins as banks have been slow to cut lending rates in response to market conditions while they have been quick to reduce interest rates on deposits.

NTB non-interest income was also sharply higher, rising 57 percent to 613 million rupees with foreign exchange income up 65 percent to 160 million rupees with the sudden sharp depreciation of the rupee in the March quarter.

The bank is also believed to have enjoyed capital gains in the bond market with the sharp fall in yields in treasury instruments.

Loan growth was stagnant and bad