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Sterling Bank records 65% growth in FY2017 profit



Sterling Bank Plc has recorded sustained growth in earnings with 65 per cent increase in profit after income tax for the full year ended December 2017.


The group’s profit after income tax rose to N8.521 billion during the financial year as against N5.63 billion during the corresponding period of 2016. Profit before income tax stood at N8.606 billion from N6.000 billion in 2016, accounting for an increase of 43.43 per cent.


The group’s gross earnings rose to N133.490 billion during the financial year ended December 31, 2017 as against N111.440 billion during the corresponding period of 2016. Sterling Bank also recorded sustained growth in earnings with 19 per cent increase in gross earnings for the third quarter ended 30 September 2017, boosted by 48.9 per cent increase in non-interest income.


The bank’s gross earnings rose to N94.6 billion during the third quarter ended September 30, 2017 as against N79.7 billion during the corresponding period of 2016. Other performance indicators showed that non-interest income grew by 48.9 per cent to N16.0 billion as against N10.8 billion in the third quarter of 2016.


Commenting on the bank’s performance, the management stated, “In the third quarter, the bank sustained its earnings growth momentum with an 18.8 per cent growth in gross earnings boosted by a 48.9 per cent increase in non-interest income,” remarking that during the year, the bank’s strategy built on efficient operations and sustainable growth of its balance sheet in a cautious but optimistic manner, continued to deliver results.


According to the bank, despite the persistent inflationary pressures, costto- income ratio improved by 140 basis points driven by a moderation in operating expenses, thereby enabling the bank to record significant improvement in asset quality with a 380-basis point reduction in non-performing loan (NPL) ratio.


The bank also said that it will continued to diversify its funding base leading to a 147.6 per cent increase in long-term funding and that overall profit before tax rose by 8.1 per cent to N6.6 billion while annualized pre-tax return on average equity improved by 50 basis points to 9.6 per cent. “As economic recovery gains momentum, we are well positioned to respond to emerging opportunities in education, health and transportation sectors.


Our existing collaboration with pioneering technology companies in these sectors has started yielding results and this will provide a springboard for growth in 2018,” the bank noted. Further analysis showed that net operating income increased by 0.5 per cent to N45.3 billion compared with N45.1 billion in 2016.


Operating expenses however moderated by 0.6 per cent to N38.8 billion as against N39 billion in 2016; profit before tax rose by 8.1 per cent to N6.6 billion as against N6.1 billion in 2016 while profit after tax also appreciated by 7.3 per cent to close the quarter at N5.9 billion compared with N5.5 billion in 2016.

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Tincan Customs chief to implement 48-hour cargo clearance



Customs Area Controller (CAC), Tin Can Island Port Command, Musa Baba Abdullahi has reiterated the command’s unshaken commitment to achieve 48hour cargo clearance from the port without compromising revenue collection and national security.

The customs chief said efforts are being put in place to maximise benefits of technology and build the command’s manpower to meet with the growing challenges of modern trade.


While addressing maritime journalists in his Apapa office, Musa identified swift dispute resolution as a key component to facilitate trade. He said the command has put in place a faster mechanism to address any area of disagreement in interpretations of guidelines for duty collection and other related matters.


He added that a committee put in place for disputes resolution meets as soon as any dispute arises to avoid port users incurring costs caused as a result of delays in resolving such disputes.


According to him, there is a quicker process of bringing issues to his attention and contacting the headquarters where necessary to avoid delays associated with such disagreements. He said the command has stepped up efforts at keeping officers and relevant stakeholders abreast with the use of technology for the purpose of customs operations.


The Controller disclosed that senior officers and licensed customs agents are being trained at the command’s Information Communication Technology (ICT) Centre on the latest Nigeria Customs Information System (NICIS 2) in batches.


Musa said the training and retraining of customs personnel and stakeholders will continue with a view to getting as many persons as possible knowledgeable in the workings of the system.


He also stressed the need for all stakeholders to increase their levels of compliance with rules and improve on their knowledge as ways of achieving seamless flow of trade thereby achieving faster clearance of goods from the port.

The Controller also advised the maritime media to uphold the ethics of their profession and be fair and truthful in all they do.

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Early rainfall to boost Nigeria’s cocoa mid-crop




Nigeria’s mid-crop cocoa output for 2017/18 could rise by 15 per cent from last season, helped by a mix of rainfall and sunshine in the main growing regions which has helped the trees, President of Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CAN) Sayina Riman said in a recent interview with Bloomberg.


Drought cut last season’s mid-crop harvest by 40 per cent. The dry weather continued into the main crop of the new season.


Riman said the drought affected the trees, reducing output of between 300,000 tonnes and 320,000 tonnes projected at the beginning of the 2017/18 season.


He said that early rains in March and April have helped boost the mid-crop, which could see the season’s output close at around 290,000.
Riman farms on a 170 hectare cocoa plantation in Nigeria’s second-biggest region of Cross Rivers.


The cocoa season in Nigeria runs from October to September, with an October-to-February main crop and a smaller light or mid-crop that begins in April or May and runs through September.


“Despite the drought of last year which affected cocoa we believe we would be close to 290,000 tonnes for 2017/18 season,” Riman told Reuters.


The International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO), however, gives much lower estimates of Nigerian cocoa output. It forecast last season’s production at 225,000 tonnes.


Riman did not give a reason for the discrepancy. Nigerian government production figures are also significantly higher than ICCO estimates.


Nigeria has recently emerged from recession and a currency crisis which caused a chronic dollar shortage, forcing exporters to under-invoice their goods in order to use the foreign exchange black market to get premium for their hard currency.


The action caused the West African country slip to the sixth producer of cocoa in the world at the peak of the crisis. Riman said Nigeria was getting back to number four grower as exporters now use the official currency markets.

Riman said Nigeria was working on improving its bean quality especially with renewed demand from Europe.


However, bean count, a measure of the number of beans needed to produce 100 grams of cocoa, reached as high as 140 for the main crop.

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Rising Nigerian bonds drags yields down



Nigeria’s local-currency bonds are on a roll, rising for the last eight days and driving their yields below Turkey’s for the first time in more than two years.


The average rate on Nigerian government bonds has fallen around 400 basis since an August-peak to 13 per cent. Yields are now 100 basis points below the Central Bank of Nigeria’s benchmark interest rate of 14 per cent, where its been held since July 2016.

Investors have piled into the naira market thanks to slowing inflation, a stable currency and rising Brent crude prices, which climbed about 25 per cent in the past six months to more than $70 a barrel. In contrast, they’ve turned bearish on Turkey, which has the worst-performing local bonds in emerging markets this year, because of accelerating inflation and loose monetary policy.


Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, may be tempted to commence his long-touted easing cycle and help revive the economy that has faltered since the 2014 oil crash. While that would reduce the attractiveness of naira assets, Nigerian yields are still high relative to other major emerging markets. Aside from Turkey, Argentina and Egypt’s bonds are the only ones to yield more in the Bloomberg Barclays EM Local Currency Index.

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