By Mark T. Amoguis, Researcher

YUCHENGCO-LED Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) is on track to grow its bottom line this year by double digits, a senior official said, as the bank’s net income climbed by almost a fourth during the first half.

“There is a good probability that we’re going to meet double-digit [net income growth] this 2019. With the things that we have been focusing on, the execution based on the plans that has been crafted over the past several years, the trajectory is…double-digit growth,” Horacio E. Cebrero III, RCBC senior executive vice-president and treasurer, told reporters during the bank’s first-half earnings briefing on Wednesday.

RCBC’s consolidated net income ended flat at P4.321 billion last year.

In a disclosure to the local bourse on Wednesday, the listed bank said its consolidated net income went up by 23% to P2.7 billion in the first six months from the P2.2 billion booked during the same period in 2018.

RCBC attributed this performance to the growth of its core business, especially in its net interest income and fee-based income, which grew 10% and 23% year on year, respectively.

“We are happy with the double-digit growth in income, a result of our consistent focus on strengthening the bank’s core business,” Eugene S. Acevedo, RCBC president and chief executive officer, was quoted in a statement as saying.

“However, I believe that there is more we can do and achieve. Moving forward, focusing on consumer loans and the SME (small and medium enterprises) sector will be the key for us to fight our way back,” Mr. Acevedo said.

In the first half, the bank’s net interest income went up 10% to P10.6 billion, driven by the growth in the outstanding loan portfolio of key select markets.

Loans to SMEs rose by 20% to P60.5 billion. Rizal MicroBank’s loans to micro and small business enterprises reached P1.2 billion, up by 18%.

Consumer loans, which include credit cards as well as mortgage and auto loans, increased by 18% to P120.6 billion. RCBC’s gross outstanding credit card receivalbles jumped by 37% to P25.0 billion, while its active card base stood at 788,000, 26% higher versus the comparable six-month period last year.

Meanwhile, RCBC’s non-interest income in the first semester more than doubled to P6.1 billion due to higher contributions in treasury-related and fee-based income. Trading gains reached P3.2 billion, while its fee-based income contributed P2.1 billion.

On the other hand, total operating expenses increased by 11% to P10.5 billion in the first half amid “significant growth” in business volume as its top line went up 32% annually.

Total resources reached P673.8 billion, up 15% year-on-year, as its total deposits went up by 6% to P418.6 billion. Its capital funds stood at P83.4 billion while its capital adequacy ratio stood at 16.13% — well above the minimum regulatory requirement of 10% for big banks — and common equity Tier 1 ratio at 13.29%.

RCBC shares closed at P30.60 apiece yesterday, up P1.40 or 4.79%.