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FBN Holding Plc. (Revised TP: N3.21, Rating: Hold) held its  conference call on the 26th of October, 2016. Please see below the group’s 9M’16 performance update and key highlights from the call. 


NPLs – still a big concern

FBNH impairment charges have been rising rapidly in the past one year. As at 9M’16, FBNH reported N114 billion in credit impairment charges following the N119.3 billion recorded in FY’15. Despite the huge impairment charges, loan coverage ratio remains significantly low at 43.6% – far below industry and peer average of 110% and 124% respectively. This signifies that just below half of the bank’s non-performing loan is adequately provided for as at 9M’16. Hence, we anticipate further rise in impairments by FY’16. On the $400 million Atlantic Energy loan, management said that the recovery progress was significantly slower than anticipated. We think the current challenges in the upstream oil & gas sector coupled with the cloudy outlook for crude oil prices may stall the remediation of this loan and management may have to increase the credit provisions for the loan by FY’16. However, there was good news on the Aiteo’s credit facility as the company ramped up production from 20,000 bpd to 90,000 bpd. According to management, the restructuring of this loan should be finalized in a few weeks. In all, we expect coverage ratio to improve marginally upon the completion of the restructuring of Aiteo’s credit facility but we remain wary of Atlantic energy loan and the impact on shareholders’ funds if the bank is to make full provision for this asset.


Management shifts focus to transaction banking 

Management emphasised its strategy to move from lending to transaction banking at its Q3’16 conference call. The bank has also been ramping up its electronic banking transactions and has constantly won the NIBBS transaction award as it consistently processes over 100 million electronic transactions monthly on its digital banking platform. Reflecting this development, non – interest revenues grew by 56% YoY. Over the medium term, we envisage significant growth in non – interest incomes given the bank’s strong potential to grow earnings from digital banking in view of its retail network.


Group suspends upstreaming of dividends to enable bank subsidiary shore up capital 

In a bid to shore up capital, dividends from the bank (the commercial banking entity) has been suspended. The capital adequacy ratio of the commercial banking entity has declined to 15.4% in 9M’16 from 17.1% in FY’15; hence management will be retaining all profit earned during the period  to boost capital. The group however intends to pay FY’16 dividend from the profit of its other subsidiaries and guided towards paying no less than the amount paid in FY’15 (15 kobo).



Earnings Outlook 

We project that top line and bottom-line will be around N586.4 billion and N39.3 billion representing a growth of 19.5% and 161% respectively. The marked growth in bottom line is due to the abnormally low base of N15.2 billion in FY’15 compared to N82.8 billion and N70.6 billion recorded in FY’14 and FY’13 respectively. Our projections follows from our expectation that the impact of expected  revaluation gains of about N81 billion (9M’16 : N68.4 billion) will be wiped out by huge impairments which we estimate might be around N138.8 billion (9M’16 : N114.7 billion). We expect non-performing loan ratio and cost of risk (COR) to rise to 26% (9M’15: 24.9%) and 7.1% respectively whilst ROAE and ROAA may decline to  7% and 0.9% respectively.


Valuation: We downgrade FBNH to a Hold

After adjusting for the uptrend in impairment charges in our excess return model, we  revise our target price to N3.21 from N4.93. Our current target price represents 4.6% upside to its current price of N3.07. Hence, we downgrade our  rating on the counter to a Hold. At current price, the counter is trading at a forward P/B and P/E of 0.2x and 2.7x compared to peer average of 0.6x and 3.5x respectively.


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