Finance firm Hong Leong Finance posted a net profit of $16.5 million in the first quarter, up 13.2 per cent from the same period a year earlier.
Net interest income and hiring charges in the three months to March 31 was $36.3 million, down 3.3 per cent year on year.
This was due to a 11.5 per cent dip in total interest income and hiring charges to $72.1 million in the first quarter, while interest expenses registered a decrease of $8.1 million from a year earlier. Both decreases resulted from a combination of a lower base and lower applicable interest rates, the group said.
Fee and commission income rose 63.6 per cent to $3.7 million from both lending and non-lending products. Staff costs dropped by 6.8 per cent to $15.4 million owing to lower provision for bonus and headcount.
A decrease of 14 per cent in other operating expenses to $4.7 million was due mainly to decreased business promotion expenses.
AT A GLANCE
NET INTEREST INCOME AND HIRING CHARGES: $36.3 million (-3.3%)
NET PROFIT: $16.5 million (+13.2%)
Net loan assets, including hire purchase receivables (net of allowances), stood at $9.5 billion as at March 31, a reflection of the slowing economy, given a 4.2 per cent dip from a base of $9.927 billion as at March 31 last year.
First-quarter earnings per share was 14.83 cents, up from 13.11 cents a year ago. Net asset value per share was $3.86 as at March 31, up from $3.82 as at Dec 31.
Hong Leong Finance, which supports many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), said it would continue to provide innovative solutions for these companies even as the forecast is for the Singapore economy to grow at a moderate pace.
On Feb 14, the Monetary Authority of Singapore announced forthcoming changes to enhance the industry's ability to finance and support SMEs.
The proposed measures are a relaxation of some of the business restrictions, which Hong Leong Finance said it welcomes since this represents further opportunities for the company to expand its business with SMEs. The results were posted after trading hours. The counter closed up a cent or 0.36 per cent at $2.76 yesterday.