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Itau Unibanco (ITUB) Q4 Earnings Improve on Higher Revenues

Zacks Equity Research

Itau Unibanco Holding S.A. ITUB posted recurring earnings of R$6.5 billion ($1.7 billion) in fourth-quarter 2018, up 3.2% year over year. Including non-recurring items, net income came in at R$6.2 billion ($1.6 billion), up 6.6%.

The company’s results were aided by higher revenues, decline in provisions and improved managerial financial margin. Further, a strong balance-sheet position came as a tailwind. However, slight rise in expenses was an undermining factor.

For full-year 2018, recurring net income came in at R$25.7 billion ($6.9 billion) compared with R$24.9 billion at the end of 2017.

Revenues Improve, Provisions Fall, Costs Up

Operating revenues came in at R$28.5 billion ($7.5 billion) in the reported quarter, up 2.3% on a year-over-year basis.

For 2018, the company reported operating revenues of R$111.8 billion ($30.2 billion), up 2.3% from the previous year.

Managerial financial margin advanced 2.6% year over year to R$17.4 billion ($4.6 billion). The increase in average asset portfolio and in higher liabilities margin was partially offset by decline in average loan spread.

Further, commissions and fees were up 4.8% year over year to R$9.2 billion ($2.4 billion). The rise is attributed to higher income from advisory services and brokerage, credit and debit cards and fund management services.

Non-interest expenses came in at R$12.8 billion ($3.4 billion), up 1% on a year-over-year basis. However, expenses for provision for loan and lease losses fell 15.3% to R$3.8 billion ($1 billion).

In the quarter under review, the efficiency ratio was 48.7%, reflecting contraction of 50 basis points (bps) from the year-earlier quarter. A decrease in this ratio indicates increased profitability.

The non-performing loan ratio (loan transactions more than 90 days overdue) came in at 2.9% in the fourth quarter, contracting 20 bps year over year. Itau Unibanco’s credit portfolio, including endorsement, private securities and sureties reached R$636.9 billion ($164.4 billion) as of Dec 31, 2018, up 6.1%.

As of Dec 31, 2018, the company’s total assets amounted to R$1.6 trillion ($0.4 trillion), up 2.3% from the end of the prior quarter. Assets under administration were R$1.1 trillion ($0.3 trillion), up 3.5% sequentially.

Annualized recurring return on average equity declined to 21.8% from 21.9% recorded in the year-earlier quarter. As of Dec 31, 2018, estimated Common Equity Tier I - BIS III ratio came in at 14.9% compared with 14.7% a year ago.

Outlook

For 2019, the company expects costs of credit in the R$14.5-R$17.5 billion band. Also, non-interest expenses are expected to escalate in the range of 5-8%.

In addition, the total credit portfolio is projected to grow 8-11% while commissions and fees as well as results from Insurance operations are likely to be up 3-6%. Rise in managerial financial margin with clients is estimated between 9.5% and 12.5%. Financial marginal with the market is estimated between R$4.6 billion and R$5.6 billion. Effective tax rate is estimated to be in the 31-33% range.

Our Viewpoint

Results of Itau Unibanco highlight an encouraging quarter. Furthermore, the company’s prospects look encouraging as it remains focused on building strategies to expand inorganically. In addition to these, the merger with CorpBanca has fortified its footprint in Latin America while acquiring Citibank’s operations has fueled growth.

Nevertheless, heightening competition, rising expenses and stressed conditions in the Brazilian economy pose significant risks.

Itau Unibanco Holding S.A. Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise

Itau Unibanco Holding S.A. Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise | Itau Unibanco Holding S.A. Quote

Itau Unibanco currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Competitive Landscape

Deutsche Bank DB reported net loss of €409 million ($467.1 million) in fourth-quarter 2018 compared with a loss of €2.4 billion in the year-ago quarter. The bank incurred loss before taxes of €319 million ($364.3 million). Lower revenues and higher provisions were the key undermining factors. Notably, net asset outflows were recorded during the quarter. However, strong capital position and lower expenses were the main positives.

UBS Group AG UBS reported fourth-quarter 2018 net profit attributable to shareholders of $696 million against loss of $2.4 billion in the prior-year quarter. Notably, the company’s performance in the quarter reflects lower expenses. However, results were affected by fall in net fee and commission income and lower net interest income.

Among other foreign banks, Credit Suisse CS will report December quarter-end results on Feb 13.

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