Heartland's lift in profit as expected

Haley Van Leeuwen.
Haley Van Leeuwen.
Listed bank Heartland New Zealand produced a solid result in line with guidance with the real catalyst being the recently announced acquisitions, Forsyth Barr broker Haley Van Leeuwen said yesterday.

Heartland said it was on the lookout for more acquisitions.

The company reported an operating profit of $26.7 million for the six months ended December, up 32% on the $20.2 million reported in the previous corresponding period.

An interim dividend of 2.5c a share will be paid.

The reported profit of $16.7 million was a 56% increase on the $10.7 million reported in the pcp.

Operating income of $59.1 million in the period was up more than 13% on the pcp.

Mrs Van Leeuwen said the operating income was in line with expectations.

Interest income fell 3%, reflecting a reduction in finance receivables from $2 billion to $1.9 billion over the six-month period.

Non-core residential mortgages and property assets fell by $104.5 million while the motor vehicle book increased by $21.4 million.

However, Mrs Van Leeuwen said the purchase of Seniors Money International's Australian home equity release mortgage businesses was a catalyst of growth.

Heartland would pay $87 million and under the agreement, would acquire the Sentinel New Zealand and Australian Seniors finance businesses, including their respective mortgage portfolios with an aggregate asset value of about $760 million.

Heartland managing director Jeff Greenslade said the bank believed the timing was right for home equity release products and was confident it would offer strong and sustainable growth potential in the future.

Significant progress was achieved in running down the legacy non-core property book and, as a result of the measures taken in the past financial year, those assets had no impact on the earnings in the current reporting period.

Operating costs of $32.4 million for the period were an increase of $500,000 from the pcp.

The higher costs were due to expenses arising from acquisition activities.

The operating expense ratio of 55%, compared with 62% in the pcp, reflected higher operating income, he said.

Net operating income increased in Heartland's business, rural and retail and consumer divisions during the period.

Mr Greenslade said Heartland expected asset growth to remain challenging given increased competition in the business and rural sectors.

But growth in households through both motor vehicle and home equity release products looked strong.

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