CHINA BANKING Corp. said 2019 net profit grew 24% to record levels following what it described as “sustained, robust growth” in its core businesses.

In a filing with the stock exchange Friday, the lender said net earnings rose 24% year-on-year to P10.1 billion, a performance which also saw an ”improved” return on equity to 11.04%, with the return on assets at 1.10%.

“Our financial performance exceeded our projections and puts China Bank… in a better position to meet the opportunities and challenges ahead,” its President William C. Whang said in a statement.

Net interest income grew 14% to P26.1 billion, while fee-based income rose 49% to P8.4 billion.

The loan portfolio grew 13% to P578 billion, amid higher demand across all segments. The consumer loan portfolio rose 23% to P107 billion.

The non-performing loan (NPL) ratio was 1.5% with provision coverage for NPLs at 129%.

Meanwhile, deposits grew 7% to P775 billion.

“The bank’s successful fund-raising via the issuance of P30 billion in retail bonds and $150 million in IFC (International Finance Corp.) green bonds also helped improve the bank’s funding flexibility in 2019,” China Bank, which is celebrating its hundredth year in business this year, said.

In 2019, operating costs rose 13% to P20.3 billion amid an ongoing revamp of systems, processes, infrastructure, and manpower.

“With the significant increase in operating income, cost-to-income ratio improved to 59% from 63%, even as the bank continued to invest heavily in the needed improvements to provide the best service to customers,” it said.

Total capital rose 9% year-on-year to P96 billion. Meanwhile, capital adequacy ratios remained above minimum regulatory levels with the common equity tier 1 ratio at 12.8% and total capital adequacy ratio at 13.7%.

In 2019 China Bank undertook a P30 billion maiden peso fixed-rate bond isse which was six times oversubscribed.

China Bank Capital, its investment banking unit, took part in almost 50 deals worth P553 billion and $1.3 billion.

China Bank closed at P24.75 Friday, down 0.2%. — Luz Wendy T. Noble