+ FY18 NIM expanded 5 bps YoY to 1.70%, but remained flat QoQ; meeting the full year guidance. NIM expansion was boosted by higher margins in Singapore, Malaysia and Greater China. Loan, interbank and other assets yields surged 41 bps, 123 bps and 32 bps YoY while the cost of funds increased 50 bps YoY. Given the recent dovish tone on future rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve, we lower our NIM estimates for FY19e from 1.8% to 1.74%. We expect mortgage repricing to support NIM expansion.
+ FY18 loan growth was the highest in four years at 8.6% YoY, in line with high-single-digit guidance. After enjoying three quarters of c.16% YoY loan growth, Greater China’s 4Q18 loan growth slowed to 8.9% YoY. Loans expanded 8.3% YoY in Singapore and 5.0% YoY in Malaysia. Housing loans contracted for the second consecutive quarter due to the onset of property cooling measures. OCBC’s LDR declined to 86.4% (3Q18: 88.5%) due to the shoring up of deposits at year end which resulted in a flat QoQ NIM. We believe that the sluggish global economic growth and slowdown in Singapore’s mortgage loan growth will make it challenging for loan growth in 2019. Hence we lowered our FY19e loan growth estimates from 7.5% to 4.4%, in line with guidance of low-mid single-digit growth.
+ NPL stable at 1.5%; Credit Costs normalised to 11 bps. Allowances amounted to S$288mn and fell 57% YoY due to provisions set aside for O&G sector last year.
– FY18 non-interest income fell 7.2% YoY due to a $406mn declined in net gains from investment securities and other income. Great Eastern Holdings (GEH) sustained a marked to market loss of almost S$100mn in the investments carried. Also, there was investment gain of almost S$300mn last year, and there was no such substantial gain in FY18.
– 4Q18 provisions spiked 318.4% QoQ. Majority of the increase was due to higher NPL formation booked in Hong Kong and a corporate account restructuring in Malaysia, which they do not anticipate further losses. OCBC had expected more investments by oil majors following the higher oil prices would increase which should result in a higher utilisation rate and subsequently higher charter rates. However, the assumption did not realise, and the cash-flow projections that rely on better charter rates did not increase. Hence OCBC reassessed its O&G portfolio and took in specific provisions in 4Q18.
– 4Q18 CIR spiked to 45.9% (4Q17: 40.8%). The increase in CIR was due to a fall in trading income led by unrealised marked to market losses from GEH’s investment portfolio.
We continue to be positive on the NIM expansion in 2019, but we tone down our FY19e NIM expectations due to the US Federal Reserve tapering off rate hikes. Attention is to be directed on the property sector to support loan growth in FY19. We expect overall loan growth in FY19 to be slower than FY18 due to trade tensions, property cooling measures and rising interest rates. PATMI is stable at a mid-high single digit growth rate; and any further upside will depend on capital markets improving for investment and wealth management business turn around. We believe that heavier reliance on interest income should provide stability and predictability to revenue.
We maintain BUY with an unchanged target price of S$13.70.