ASIA UNITED Bank Corp. (AUB) saw its net profit surge in the first quarter as its core lending businesses remained robust amid competition.

In a disclosure to the local bourse on Thursday, the Ng-led lender said it posted a P1.1-billion bottom line in the first three months of the year, 38% higher than the P797.7 million recorded in the same period last year.

AUB’s net interest income stood at P2.17 billion in the January-March period, up 29% from P1.68 billion last year. This translated to a net interest margin of 4.7%, higher than the 4.3% a year ago.

Loans and receivables grew 19% to P153.86 billion as of end-March from P129.62 billion in the comparative year-ago period as the bank and its subsidiaries continued to tap cross-selling opportunities across all product types, including car, housing and salary loans as well as credit cards, it said yesterday.

Total deposit liabilities grew 12% to P186.89 billion as of March from P166.46 billion in the same period in 2018, with the bulk coming from savings deposits, which surged 57% to P71.08 million in the first quarter.

AUB’s other operating income was at P558.12 million, up 11% from P503.66 million in the same period in 2018.

In particular, gains from trading and securities grew 78% year-on-year to P254.15 million, while foreign exchange gains declined 13% to P23.94 million.

Service charges, fees and commissions also decreased 16% to P191.8 million, dragged by increased transactions from increase in loan and deposit volume.

Including provision for losses, AUB’s total operating expenses stood at P1.42 billion in the three months ended March, 16% higher year-on-year.

“Amid the feverish competition within and outside the banking industry, AUB and its subsidiaries’ core lending businesses remained robust,” AUB President Manuel A. Gomez was quoted as saying in the statement.

He added that the first-quarter results give the bank “greater optimism about our bottom line prospects” given its reliance on its core earning assets, which are deemed more sustainable.

“Our digital strategy enables us to reach out to more customers anywhere and anytime despite our modest branch network.”

The bank has a network of 260 branches nationwide, including those of wholly-owned subsidiaries Cavite United Rural Bank and Rural Bank of Angeles. The parent bank also has a total of 215 automated teller machines.

AUB shares went up 15 centavos or 0.26% to close at P58.80 apiece on Thursday. — Karl Angelo N. Vidal