Sterling Bank Plc (NSE: STERLNBANK/ Reuters STBP.LG – the “Bank”) today released its unaudited financial results for the period ended September 30, 2010.

In the third quarter, Sterling Bank maintained its healthy performance of the first six months supported by a boost in earnings from steady growth in interest margins and writeback from credit provisions. During the year, the Bank’s strategy built on careful asset selection, loan recovery and discretionary cost containment have delivered consistently attractive results.

Speaking of the Bank’s performance, Mallam Garba Imam, Sterling Bank’s Executive Director, said:

We are justifiably gratified by our performance in the first nine months of the year. As the transition in the Nigerian banking sector unfolds, both on the regulatory and business sides, Sterling Bank’s size gives us the advantage of making changes quickly across board where necessary and seizing emerging opportunities as they appear. I am proud to say that we have successfully ticked off most checkboxes for our goals this year.

Highlights of the results were:

• Profit after Tax for the nine months rose to N5.3 billion from a loss of   N6.2 billion in September 2009

• Gross Earnings declined 13% to N23.1 billion from N26.6 billion in September 2009 on the back of a lower interest rate regime

• Funding costs declined 38% to N8.1 billion from N13.0 billion in the comparable period of 2009 feeding through a 20% improvement in Net Interest Margins

• Operating Expenses remained stable at N11.9 billion

• Cost-to-income ratio (including allowances for risk assets) dropped 59% from 151% to 62% as a result of improvement in interest margins and loan recoveries

• Allowances for Risk Assets stood in the positive region of N2.5 billion in contrast to N(8.9)billion in the prior period demonstrating performance improvement in loan assets  and progress in loan recovery efforts

• Balance Sheet size grew 26% from N221.3 billion in December 2009 to N279.3 billion spurred by moderately favourable economic conditions

• Deposits grew 21% from N161.3 billion in December 2009 to N195.7 billion

• Net Loans and Advances (including Advances under Finance Lease) increased 9% to N90.5 billion from N82.9 billion recorded in December 2009

• Liquidity ratio was 42.9%, Capital Adequacy Ratio (unaudited) was 15%, while Annualized Return on Average Equity was 30%

• Earnings Per Share (EPS) was 43k compared to (54)k in the prior period.

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