22 Feb 2021

Heartland Group reports $44.1 million profit

12:02 pm on 22 February 2021

Financial services company Heartland Group has come through the pandemic with increased business, margins and profit.

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Its half year profit for the six months ended December was $44.1 million compared with $39.9m the year before.

The company said the economy had performed better than expected through Covid-19 and that was reflected in its results.

"Heartland's loan portfolios showed resilience to the effects of the pandemic as the industries and demographics most affected by Covid-19 are not materially represented in Heartland's core lending or customer base."

Heartland specialises in online consumer and business finance, reverse mortgages, as well as having a stake in the Harmoney finance group.

A feature of the half year was a fall in the amount of bad and doubtful debts, with the additional $9.6m set aside at the start of the year not needed.

The amount of lending rose nearly 3 percent to $4.7 billion, with net income rising more than 5 percent, and its net interest margins rising also.

It said strongest growth was in its reverse mortgage sales in New Zealand and Australia, business and vehicle lending, and digital home loans.

The company noted a higher than expected level of loan repayments, which it put down to mortgage holidays that banks gave as part of the Covid-19 relief measures allowing consumers to repay other loans. It said it expected the end of mortgage holidays and an improving economy to lead to more repayment behaviour.

Operating expenses were up 12 percent on a year ago as it took on more staff to provide support services for its on-line products, and spent more on its IT systems.

The company reduced its half year dividend because of Reserve Bank rules limiting how much banks can return to shareholders.

Heartland tweaked its full year profit forecast to be at the upper end of its previously advised $83m-$85m range.