Margin Gains

May 16, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Commercial Bank of Ceylon said group profits grew 24 percent in the March 2010 quarter to 1,107 million rupees from a year earlier as interest margins improved and loan loss provisions fell. Amid low loan growth the group’s government securities held-to-maturity portfolio rose to 106 billion rupees from 89 billion rupees in December 2009. Treasuries in the trading portfolio also grew to 10.3 billion rupees from 8.5 billion rupees.

Commercial Bank group’s gross assets grew 3.7 percent to 334.5 billion rupees and net assets 4 percent to 29.9 billion rupees.

Earnings per share for the quarter were reported at 4.37 rupees. On Friday the stock close at 207 rupees up one rupee.

Interest income fell 8.7 percent to 8.3 billion rupees, but interest expenses fell at a faster 22.9 percent to 4.7 billion rupees allowing net interest income to grow 21.4 percent to 3.5 billion rupees in a lower interest rates environment.

Fee income fell 26 percent as forex profits plunged 54 percent to 446.3 million rupees from a year earlier, as the Central Bank kept a firm peg with the US dollars and the rupee also appreciated.

Loan loss provisions were a net reversal of 29 million rupees as 16