27 Feb 2024

Heartland half-year profit falls as lending slows

12:48 pm on 27 February 2024
Heartland Group chief executive Jeff Greenslade

Heartland Group chief executive Jeff Greenslade. Photo: Supplied

Financial services company Heartland Group's half-year profit has fallen 23 percent as it faced one-off costs, slower lending and issues relating to longer-dated car loans.

Key numbers for the six months ended December 2023 compared with a year ago:

  • Net profit $37.6m vs $48.7m
  • Net income $143.1m vs $141.7m
  • Net interest margin 3.67% vs 3.97%
  • Interim dividend 4 cents per share vs 5.5 cps

Heartland said one-off write-downs had a $15.1 million net impact on its bottom line profit - but excluding the one-offs, underlying earnings fell 3.6 percent.

They included costs related to increased arrears in a subset of longer dated motor loans which the bank said was due to operational issues, and costs relating to its acquisition of Challenger Bank in Australia.

Heartland said the arrears arose from staff shortages in its collections and recoveries division, caused by illness, high staff turnover and staff being focused on the bank's core banking system upgrade, which was now complete.

"This is being addressed through a specialised recruitment strategy and automation. Underlying impairments are otherwise performing as expected given the challenging economic conditions. Heartland's asset quality continues to shift towards loans with lower risk exposures," the company said.

Heartland said it also experienced short-term challenges, with a slower than expected start to 2024 for car loans and Australian livestock finance, and higher cost of funds.

However, the company said its overall performance showed "resilience" of Heartland's core lending portfolios.

"In particular, Australian Reverse Mortgages' market share increased to 41 percent as at 30 September 2023 and motor finance experienced growth of 6.4 percent in a market where total new and used car sales in New Zealand were down by 12.2 percent."

Looking ahead, Heartland expected its full-year after-tax profit to be within the guidance range of $93m to $97m.

Excluding one-offs, its underlying guidance range was $108m to $112m.

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