OTP: management targets earnings growth of 17% in 2006
Following the release of better-than-expected 4Q05 results, OTP Bank announced new guidance, targeting earnings growth of 17% to some HUF 184.7bn for 2006. In a conference call with analysts, CFO Zoltan Speder provided further detail on OTP Bank’s targets for the coming year.
Total assets are targeted to grow at a pace of 15% in 2006, with loans rising 23-24%. This is somewhat faster than we had been forecasting (12-13% for assets and 16-17% for loans) but looks achievable even without a sizable acquisition. Corporate loans are to grow by 24%, retail mortgages by 22%, consumer loans by 28%, and municipal sector loans by 16%. The bank is aiming to achieve 60% loan growth in foreign operations and 15-16% domestically.
Net interest income is targeted to grow by 9-10% in 2006, factoring in a margin decline of 50bp (similar trajectory to the 51bp drop in 2005), from a level of 6.33% in 2005. Whilst interest rates have levelled out, OTP Bank sees rising competition putting pressure on its margin, particularly in Hungary and Bulgaria, and in the mass-market retail segment, where lending spreads are most attractive.
Non-interest income is targeted to grow by 20% in 2006, driven by net fee income and with a double-digit increase in insurance income. This looks challenging, as we had been looking for just over 10% growth with an increase of 14% in fees. Nonetheless, given the momentum in net fee income, which was up 39.4% y/y in 2005, we see substantial room to upgrade our figures. Given jump in insurance income in 4Q05 to HUF5.1bn (almost half of the annual result), it was revealing that the bank believes it is able to achieve growth off of the inflated base in 2006.
Personnel cost growth is to be capped at 8% in 2006. Despite plans to add a couple of hundred employees in each of Romania and Croatia, OTP Bank plans to keep group headcount flat via initiatives in Bulgaria and Hungary. The rise in costs reflects new incentive schemes to create a direct link between compensation and performance, with the focus on driving volumes and revenues.
Net provisioning requirements are to be limited to a 2-3% increase in 2006. Net provisioning requirements were 97bp of average gross loans in 2005, up from 69bp in 2004 and above the banks target of 80bp. It was underlined that precautionary measures were taken in 2005 vis-a-vis FX-denominated loans, as well as some larger provisions taken against individual corporate exposures (ie. Transelektro, Globus).
Net earnings growth of 17% is targeted to some HUF 184.7bn for 2006. This is expected to prompt an upgrade to the consensus earnings estimate, which stands HUF 178.5bn (range: HUF 164.7bn – HUF 189.2bn, source: Multex). Our own forecast, currently under review for a likely upgrade, stands at HUF 171.9bn.
Despite the good news yesterday, OTP Bank actually traded off by 0.5%, with profit-taking on heavy volume. We believe the bottom-up investment case for OTP Bank should outweigh concerns on the HUF and maintain our Buy rating. OTP Bank is the cheapest bank in the region, trading on a 2006F P/E of 11.5x.