RIZAL COMMERCIAL Banking Corp. (RCBC) posted higher net income in the first quarter on the back of sustained core business growth.

In a disclosure to the local bourse on Wednesday, the Yuchengco-led lender said it booked P1.3 billion in net earnings in the first three months of the year, 15% higher than P1.1 billion tallied in the same period last year.

Net interest income grew 10% year-on-year to P5.3 billion in the January-March period, driven mainly by the loan portfolio of key select markets.

Consumer lending, which include mortgage loans, car loans and credit cards, increased 12% to P106.9 billion from a year ago.

Loans to small and medium enterprises (SME) stood at P53.8 billion, up 12% year-on-year, while the SME lending book of RCBC’s subsidiary Rizal MicroBank grew 20% to P1 billion.

Gross outstanding credit card receivables rose 31% to P22.3 billion.

On the funding side, total deposits stood at P416 billion as of end-March, P21.4 billion higher year-on-year. RCBC’s current and savings accounts reached P229.2 billion in the quarter versus the P220 billion booked in the same period last year.

Meanwhile, non-interest income for the first quarter surged 71% to P2.9 billion, bolstered by robust treasury-related and fee-based income.

Last quarter, the lender booked P1.4 billion in trading and foreign exchange gains and P1.1 billion in fee-based profits, which includes both credit and debit card-related fees, trust fees, and fees on investment banking and loans.

Total operating expenses were at P5.2 billion, up 13% year-on-year, driven by significant growth in volume of business as gross revenues jumped 26% from a year ago.

Overall, total assets expanded by 14% to P664.7 billion year-on-year.

“We have continued to build on balance sheet strength, with assets of P665 billion supported by P83 billion of capital, as we focus on growing our core business,” RCBC President and Chief Executive Officer Gil A. Buenaventura was quoted as saying in the statement.

He added that the merger of RCBC Savings Bank with the parent lender is underway and is planned to commence in the second half of the year.

In February, RCBC issued P15 billion worth of peso-denominated green bonds to be used to support local environmental and climate projects. The 1.5-year bonds carry a coupon of 6.7315% to be paid quarterly until 2020.

RCBC shares closed unchanged at P26 each on Wednesday. — Karl Angelo N. Vidal