DBS posts 6% rise in Q4 net profit on higher income growth

People walk past the DBS branch at Rochor Centre. DBS, South-east Asia's biggest lender, logged a 6 per cent rise in fourth-quarter net profit over a year ago. -- ST FILE PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM
People walk past the DBS branch at Rochor Centre. DBS, South-east Asia's biggest lender, logged a 6 per cent rise in fourth-quarter net profit over a year ago. -- ST FILE PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Higher income growth in the fourth quarter helped DBS Bank to register a record profit for the full year.

South-east Asia's biggest lender logged a 6 per cent rise in fourth-quarter net profit over a year ago to $802 million, thanks to healthy double-digit growth in its core loans business.

Net interest income gained 12 per cent for the three months ended Dec 31 compared with the same period a year ago, to $1.45 billion.

Net fee and commission income increased 18 per cent over the period to $439 million, though other non-interest income declined 12 per cent to $258 million.

Total income came in 10 per cent higher at $2.15 billion, enabling fourth-quarter income to cross the $2 billion mark for the first time.

But higher provisions for bad loans and credit losses offset the income gains.

"Total allowances increased 32 per cent to $151 million as both general and specific allowances increased," said DBS in a statement on Friday.

Including one-off items for the setting up of a $50 million foundation and lower gains from the sale of its stake in a Philippine bank, DBS would have seen a 20 per cent drop in fourth-quarter net profit to $973 million.

Strong earnings in the fourth quarter boosted full-year net profit to a record $3.5 billion, a 4 per cent improvement over the previous year.

Total income in 2013 grew 11 per cent to a new high of $8.93 billion, led by a 5 per cent hike in net interest income of $5.57 billion, another all-time high.

But provisions for losses jumped 85 per cent to $770 million.

The non-performing loans ratio for the year stood at 1.1 per cent, a dip from the previous year's 1.2 per cent.

The bank's board has proposed a final dividend of 30 cents per share, raising the full-year payout to 58 cents per share, up from the previous year's 56 cents per share.

DBS CEO Piyush Gupta said in the statement: "Our record earnings in a year marked by significant market volatility are testament to the strength and resilience of our franchise."