METROPOLITAN Bank & Trust Co. booked higher net income in the first quarter. — BW FILE PHOTO

METROPOLITAN BANK & Trust Co. (Metrobank) saw higher net income in the first quarter driven by consistent lending and margin expansion as well as higher fee-based income.

In a disclosure to the local bourse Tuesday, the Ty-led lender said it posted net earnings amounting to P6.8 billion in the first three months of the year, up 15% from P5.9 billion in the same period last year.

Net interest income grew 12% year-on-year to P18.1 billion, accounting for 74% of the bank’s total revenues of P24.6 billion.

Net loans and receivables stood at P1.4 trillion as of end-March, 8.5% higher than the P1.3 trillion booked in the comparative year-ago period, driven by its commercial loan segment comprised of top corporate accounts, middle market, as well as small and medium enterprises.

Even as it expanded lending, asset quality remained healthy, with its non-performing loan (NPL) ratio slightly up at 1.5%.

On the other hand, Metrobank’s total deposits were at P1.6 trillion, flat from the year-ago level. Its current and savings account ratio was stable at 61% to total deposits.

Net interest margin improved by nine basis points to 3.84% compared to last year.

Meanwhile, non-interest income rose by 8% year-on-year to P6.5 billion in the first quarter. This was driven by a 9% increase in service fees and commissions to P3.1 billion, P1.5 billion in net trading and foreign exchange gains, as well as P1.6 billion in miscellaneous income.

“Fee-related revenues as well as trading income continue to benefit from increased customer business in fixed income and foreign exchange,” Metrobank said.

Operational expenditures grew 10% year-on-year to P13.5 billion. Manpower-related costs accounted for P5.4 billion of the total, while the balance was spent on systems and process improvements and continuous investments in information technology.

Metrobank also set aside P2.4 billion in provisions for credit and impairment losses.

Overall, the lender’s assets stood at P2.3 trillion as of end-March, up 9.5% from the P2.1 trillion recorded last year. Equity was at P288.7 billion.

Capital ratios of Metrobank remained above minimum requirements, with its total capital adequacy ratio and common equity Tier 1 ratio at 17.4% and 15%, respectively.

Metrobank President Fabian S. Dee said the lender delivered “favorable” results in the firs three months of 2019.

“The year is starting on the right track, with performance metrics showing expansion in existing income streams, improving productivity, and most importantly, quality growth,” Mr. Dee was quoted as saying in the statement.

“We remain optimistic on the prospects of the economy, which should be supportive of the thriving banking industry. Against this backdrop, we will continue to focus on key initiatives that will impact customer experience, efficiency, governance, and sustain profitability for the bank.”

The lender announced last March that it will absorb its wholly owned subsidiary Metrobank Card Corp. to improve synergy and increase profitability.

Metrobank shares ended at P73.85 apiece on Tuesday, gaining P1 or 1.37% from the previous day’s close. — Karl Angelo N. Vidal