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StanChart ups dividend despite YOY fall in H1 profit

British banking group Standard Chartered PLC reported a year-over-year decline in first-half attributable income, but Group CEO Bill Winters said the bank has made "good progress" both financially and on its strategic priorities in the period, citing growing income and improving profits.

First-half profit attributable to parent company shareholders came in at $1.48 billion, down from $1.56 billion a year ago. EPS for the period was 37.5 cents, compared to 40.2 cents a year earlier.

Net interest income increased year over year to $4.62 billion from $4.36 billion. Fees and commission income ticked up over the period to $2.12 billion from $2.11 billion, while fees and commission expense increased to $282 million from $245 million.

The bank's net interest margin stood at 1.59%, unchanged from the first half of 2018.

Operating profit before impairment losses and taxation totaled $2.53 billion in the period, up from the year-ago $2.44 billion.

StanChart booked credit impairment charges of $254 million in the half, up from the year-ago $214 million. Other impairment charges fell on a yearly basis to $44 million from $50 million.

Operating expenses reached $5.30 billion in the half, up from $5.19 billion a year earlier.

Underlying return on tangible equity was 8.4% at the end of June, up from 7.5% a year ago. The bank said it remains confident that its strategy will deliver a full-year ROTE above 10% in 2021.

StanChart's common equity Tier 1 ratio stood at 13.5% as of June 30, compared to 14.2% at the end of 2018 and a year earlier. The U.K. leverage ratio was 5.3% at the end of June, compared to 5.6% at 2018-end and 5.8% a year ago.

The bank's board declared an interim ordinary dividend of 7 cents per share, up 17% from a year earlier and equivalent to one-third of the 2018 full-year dividend, in line with the group's new approach of setting the interim dividend to one-third of the prior year's full-year dividend.

The interim dividend will be paid in pounds sterling, Hong Kong dollars or U.S. dollars Oct. 21 to shareholders on the U.K. register at the Aug. 9 close of business in the U.K., while the payment in Indian rupees will also take place Oct. 21 to Indian depository receipt holders on the Indian register at business close in India Aug. 9.

StanChart noted that it has bought back and canceled $740 million of shares as of July 26 as part of a $1 billion share buyback program.