Access Financial earnings pressured under decreased loan disbursal

ALTHOUGH Access Financial Services Limited (AFS) hasn’t faced any significant fallout from the coronavirus pandemic the company’s net profit for the third quarter fell by 25 per cent to $66.3 million, with the overall earnings down 65 per cent to $127.9 million for the nine months ending December 31, 2020.

The microfinance company, which operates mainly in Jamaica and Florida, saw income from loans down 13 per cent for the quarter to $386.8 million.

The sharp reduction in interest income during the nine months stemmed from the 10 per cent reduction in loans and advances inclusive of expected credit losses (ECL) at $4.04 billion due to AFS writing less loans from the decline in economic activity.

Even with other operating income increasing by 25 per cent to $23.7 million, a 40 per cent drop in fees and commissions and loans to $108.4 million left the company with net operating income 21 per cent lower at $459.7 million. Despite this drop in income, AFS managed to reduce expenses by 20 per cent to $366 million – mainly from a heavy cut in staff costs and a 42 per cent decrease in other operating expenses. Management credited the reduction in the nine-month credit loss provisions by $18 million to improved delinquency management.

These measures resulted in AFS’ third-quarter profit before taxation rising by 182 per cent over the sequential second-quarter $33.2-million figure, but still 23 per cent below the $121.4 million generated in the 2019 quarter. Earnings per share for the quarter came out at $0.24 below the $0.32 in the prior period.

Total assets declined by 1 per cent to $5.5 billion while total liabilities fell by 6 per cent to $3.2 billion. Shareholders’ equity improved by 6 per cent to $2.3 billion, primarily due to a 3,213 per cent jump in foreign exchange translation to $108.8 million. Despite the company enduring its first full financial year without the junior market tax remission, AFS maintained its $0.10 ($27.5 million) dividend payment which will be paid to shareholders on March 5.