Lombard Bank Malta plc - Full Year Results

The Board of Directors of Lombard Bank Malta p.l.c. today published the financial statements as at 31 December 2003. The accounts cover the fifteen-month period from 1 October 2002 to 31 December 2003, following the decision to change Lombard's year-end from 30 September to 31 December. Therefore, for comparison purposes, the key figures should be annualised.

During the fifteen month period under review, the Group's net interest income amounted to Lm3.6 million, up from Lm2.9 million during the twelve months ended 30 September 2002. The net interest margin deteriorated from 38.1% to 33.9%. Non-interest income amounted to Lm1.1 million and accounted for 23.5% of total operating income. Operating expenses incurred during the fifteen months amounted to Lm2.3 million resulting in a deteriorating cost to income ratio of 49.3% (2002: 46%).

The Group profit before tax of Lm2.2 million for the fifteen months represents an increase of 53% over the profit for the twelve months of 2002. On an annualised basis, the 2003 profit reads Lm1.7 million, 22.7% over the figure achieved in 2002. After deducting taxation and the loss attributable to minority interests, profits attributable to shareholders amount to Lm1.4 million. On an annualised basis, this works out at Lm1.1 million, 22% higher than in 2002. Earnings per share increased from 23.1c to 27.8c annualised.

As at 31 December 2003, customers’ deposits amounted to Lm167.6 million, 16% higher than the level of deposits as at the end of September 2002. Loans and advances to customers decreased from Lm58 million to Lm57 million, whereas loans and advances to banks surged from Lm19.6 million as at 30 September 2002 to Lm36.6 million. The Bank’s holdings of Treasury Bills, cash and balances with the Central Bank of Malta continue to remain high, and as at the end of December 2003 totalled Lm60.7 million.

Shareholders’ funds increased to Lm11.6 million resulting in a net asset value per share of 287.4c. Compared to a current market price of 373c, the equity is at a 30% premium to book value. Annualised return on average equity works out at 10.2% (2002: 9.2%), with annualised return on average assets remaining unchanged at 1.0%.

The directors are proposing for approval at the forthcoming Annual General Meeting a gross final dividend of 9c per share, which together with the interim dividend of 6c paid in October 2003, amounts to a total gross dividend of 15c per share. The net dividend is covered 2.85 times by profits resulting in a dividend payout ratio of 35%. The final dividend of 9c per share will be paid to all shareholders on the company’s register as at close of trading on Friday 27 February 2004. Consequently the shares begin trading XD as from Monday 1 March.

As in previous years, the Board of Directors is also recommending that shareholders are given the option of receiving the dividend either in cash or by the issue of new shares.