Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Record-breaking year expected for South Korea banking groups

Record-breaking year expected for South Korea banking groups

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A citizen passes by a row of automated teller machines in central Seoul, South Korea on October 4. YONHAP NEWS AGENCY

Record-breaking year expected for South Korea banking groups

Bank stocks in South Korea have long been regarded as an unappealing option for investors, but analysts say it may be their time to shine as the economy makes progress toward normalisation and interest rates are no longer at record lows.

The country’s big four banking groups – KB Financial, Hana Financial, Shinhan Financial and Woori Financial – are expected to see their combined profits grow by double digits in the quarter that ended in September, according to FnGuide, a financial information company.

Last week, KB and Hana posted record-breaking net profit for the first nine months while the other two are set to announce their earnings this week. A parade of glowing earnings reports is expected to excite the market this week.

Supporting the banks’ stellar performance and rosy outlook is higher demand for loans as the country shifts to “living with Covid-19” mode and enterprises gear up for the resumption of economic activities. Soaring asset prices are also prompting a buying spree among young people, who are looking to borrow money in hopes of profiting from trade in stocks, digital coins and property.

Higher interest rates helped banks generate revenue. After maintaining its benchmark rate at a record low of 0.5 per cent for 15 months, the Bank of Korea raised it by 25 basis points in August.

Also, the government’s efforts to bring snowballing household debt under control pushed lenders to raise their lending rates, resulting in higher net interest margins for banks.

Analysts are upbeat about financial holding firms’ performance for the remainder of the year. Daishin Securities analyst Park Hye-jin predicted that KB Financial Group’s annual net profit would exceed four trillion won ($3.4 billion) for the first time in its history.

“As another base rate hike is expected in November and the macro environment favourable to banks will continue, there is a high possibility that the company will continue to perform well through the first half of next year,” she said.

On October 21, KB reported its largest-ever quarterly profit of 1.29 trillion won, up 7.8 per cent from the previous quarter and up 9.3 per cent from the same period a year earlier.

In a rare occurrence, Woori Financial Group shares rose more than 10 per cent this month, reflecting investors’ sanguine view of its performance in the third quarter and of a long-delayed move toward privatisation.

Last month the government announced its plans to sell most of the 15.25 per cent stake it holds in Woori Financial Group, after which it would retain as little as 5.25 per cent. Some 18 investors, including telecommunications firm KT Corp, Hoban Construction and eBest Investment & Securities, have reportedly submitted letters of intent to buy Woori shares from the government.

“The sale of the remaining stake goes beyond a simple stake sale, and means that management autonomy will increase through privatisation,” Hi Investment & Securities analyst Kim Hyun-ki said.

On October 22, Hana Financial Group reported a third-quarter net income of 942 billion won, up 22.3 per cent from a year earlier. The robust results led the company to achieve record-high net income for the January-September period.

The interest income the company earned from its lending activities – which centred on loans to small and mid-sized enterprises – rose 15.3 per cent year-on-year.

Buoyed by the strong performance, the firm is considering distributing dividends each quarter in what would be a departure from its six-month-basis payout system.

The dividend payout ratio, the ratio of all dividends paid out to shareholders relative to the net income of the company, will recover to the pre-Covid-19 level of 26 per cent, the company’s Chief Financial Officer Lee Hoo-seung said during an October 22 conference call on the results for the third fiscal quarter.

Like KB, Shinhan Financial Group is expected to see its annual net income surpass four trillion won for the first time.

Seeking to boost its market cap, Shinhan has already revealed plans to pay dividends on a quarterly basis, making it the first financial holding company to do so. The amount of the dividends will be decided at a board of directors meeting on October 26.

THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • Banteay Meanchey gunfight sees 15 Thais arrested, three officers injured

    The Banteay Meanchey Military Police have arrested 15 Thai suspects and their accomplices after a gun battle between two Thai groups caused injuries to three police officers in the early hours of November 21, local authorities said. National Military Police spokesman Eng Hy said that according to

  • Locally-trained commercial pilots to lift Cambodia’s aviation standard

    The Kingdom is boosting its civil aviation sector with the establishment of a flight school with a local airline to meet growth demands once air travel recovers At 22, First Officer Reachta Lim is the youngest commercial pilot in Cambodia. He flies with the national flag