ANZ Group, Australia’s fourth-largest retail bank, reported a record annual profit on Monday. However, the profit fell short of analyst forecasts due to a thinning home loan market and soaring interest rates. As a result, the bank’s shares declined. The cash profit for the year ended Sept. 30 was A$7.41 billion, compared to A$6.50 billion the previous year. This missed the consensus estimate of A$7.56 billion. The bank’s net interest margin also decreased by 10 basis points to 1.65% in the second half of the year, reflecting pressure from the strong growth in Australia’s home lending. Shares of ANZ fell 3.6% to A$25.55. The bank’s Aussie commercial business, on the other hand, experienced 11% revenue growth and reached a record high of A$62 billion in lending. Analysts have raised concerns about margin and volume management in the Australia retail division, particularly due to the pressure on net interest margin resulting from ANZ’s aggressive growth in home lending. ANZ is currently facing regulatory scrutiny over its bid for Suncorp Group’s banking business. Despite this, the bank plans to expand its commercial business and focus on its currency and payment sites while reducing costs. Australia’s top lenders have been benefiting from the increased interest rates, which have allowed them to take advantage of the higher spread between the interest they pay to customers and the profits they earn from investments. ANZ declared a final dividend of 94 Australian cents per share, up from 74 Australian cents per share the previous year. However, the bank expects the external environment to remain challenging, with higher interest rates impacting economic activity and causing cost-of-living pressures.
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