First Citizens earnings dragged by sluggish economy

WITH global oil markets slowly creeping back up and borders still closed, Trinidad-based First Citizens group reported a 22 per cent decline in net profit to TT$173.9 million ($3.8 billion) for the period ending December 31, 2020.

As the economic fallout continues in the COVID-19 environment, net interest income fell by 11 per cent to TT$381.8 million as interest rates declined further, with gross loans falling by 2 per cent to TT$19.1 billion. A 26 per cent decline in other income to TT$140.4 million, due to a fall in fees and commissions, resulted in a 16 per cent drop in net income to TT$522.2 million.

Additionally, despite a reduction in credit impairment provisions and a 3 per cent drop in non-interest expenses, there was a resulting 27 per cent fall in operating profit to TT$228.9 million. The group’s share of profit dropped by 35 per cent to TT $4 million. With lower taxes charged during the period, earnings per shares dropped by 22 per cent to TT$0.69.

Total assets grew by 5 per cent to TT$47.8 billion ($1.04 trillion) mainly due to a growth in cash and property assets. Total liabilities increased by 6 per cent as deposits rose to TT$33.4 billion while shareholders’ equity grew by 4 per cent to TT$7.6 billion.

First Citizens declared a dividend of TT $0.36 (TT $90.5 million) for payment to shareholders on record as of February 10.

Even with the current climate, Chairman Anthony Isisdore Smart remains cautiously optimistic about the future of the country as the non-energy sectors have seen an uptick in investments in construction and manufacturing. Trinidad Cement Limited reported a 3 per cent growth in cement sales for the third quarter, while its Jamaican subsidiary which it acquired in 1999 saw a 30 per cent rise in sales.

“COVID-19 has created substantial uncertainties, unfortunate circumstances and economic challenges worldwide. Be that as it may, First Citizens remains steadfast in our commitment to maintain organisational sustainability while securing the interests of al lour stakeholders. We will continue to work with our customers and support our communities through this challenging period,” Smart said.