+ NII increased 1% QoQ, NIM stable. NII increased 1% QoQ led by loan growth of 4%, led by term and trade loans in Singapore and North Asia. NIM was unchanged at 1.57% this quarter, helped by lower cost of deposits. NIM is expected to remain stable in FY21e as the bank targets loan growth to improve NII. Wholesale banking business grew 9% YoY, to a quarterly record backed by improving sentiment. Credit demand was strong from large corporate and institutional clients.
+ Robust growth in fees and commissions. Fee and commission income grew 24% YoY and 22% QoQ. This came from record wealth-management AUM and a pick-up in equity markets. Loan-related fees were also supported by large investment-banking and loan-related deals in Singapore, Hong Kong and U.S.
– No write-backs despite stabilising outlook. The bank recognised S$71mn of SPs in 1Q21 with GP unchanged at 1% of loans. Total allowance for this quarter is S$201mn. Despite the sizeable provisions it made in 2020, the bank has delayed the write-back of these allowances in favour of a stronger balance sheet.
Profit outlook should improve in 2021. UOB’s profit should recover in 2021 on the back of stabilising margins, stronger fees and lower provisions. We expect wealth management, loan-related and card fees to expand by 22% YoY. We also expect credit costs to come in below guidance of 30bps from around 55bps last year. Management seems confident that GPs of about S$900mn already made can address any increase in non-performing loans as loan moratoriums expire. Some 6% of its loans remain under moratorium, unchanged from last year.
Keen to review Citi assets. UOB is looking at the assets that Citi has put up for sale in the Asia Pacific. It will share more details once the information memorandum, expected later this month, is released.
The MAS has still not indicated when the dividend cap on banks will be lifted. In 2020, the central bank had called on local banks to cap their total DPS at 60% of the amounts in FY19. UOB expects to resume the 50% dividend payouts once the cap is lifted.