Aussie lender NAB’s Q3 margins decline; shares up on cash earnings beat

By Archishma Iyer

(Reuters) -National Australia Bank said on Tuesday third-quarter margins declined due to increased home lending competition and higher deposit costs, even as cash earnings rose by 5%, beating market estimates.

A high interest rate environment has benefited Australian banks, but they now face headwinds from rising bad debt and increasing competition for mortgages.

Shares of the country’s second-biggest bank rose 1.3% to trade at A$28.70 at 0115 GMT.

Last week, the country’s biggest lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia posted record annual profit but warned higher living costs were pushing up debt arrears and competition was squeezing margins.

NAB’s net interest margin (NIM) – a key measure of profitability – slipped to 1.72% in the April-June quarter from 1.77% as at March 31.

“We know this environment is challenging for our customers, but pleasingly, most are proving resilient with only a modest deterioration in asset quality in 3Q23,” said NAB Chief Executive Ross McEwan.

“Consensus NIM expectations might need to moderate down, but the current run rate in earnings would suggest NAB is on track to deliver on fourth quarter FY23 cash earnings expectations,” analysts from UBS wrote.

The bank announced a A$1.5 billion ($973.05 million) share buyback, which will lower the common equity tier 1 ratio – a measure of capital position and financial strength to 11.9% down from 12.2% as at March-end.

Loan repayments delayed more than 90 days stood at 0.71% of the bank’s total gross loans, up five basis points from the previous quarter.

NAB recorded a credit impairment charge of A$244 million, which reflected a modest deterioration in asset quality across the group and volume growth.

It posted cash earnings of A$1.90 billion, compared with A$1.80 billion a year earlier and beating a Visible Alpha consensus of A$1.83 billion.

($1 = 1.5415 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Upasana Singh and Archishma Iyer in Bengaluru; Editing by Shilpi Majumdar, Shinjini Ganguli and Sohini Goswami)