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Advisory Firms Rate Fidelity As Bank with Very Attractive Stock for Higher Returns

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Highly-rated, independent investment advisory firms have picked Fidelity Bank as a very attractive stock with potential to generate high returns for investors.

Independent investment research reports by many market pundits reviewed at the weekend showed that Fidelity Bank was assigned “buy” ticker, a recommendation to investors to consider the potential attractive returns of the bank.

The research reports were based on the historical and current operational performances of the bank as well as the clear-sighted implementation of the bank’s growth plan. The reports also considered the quality of board and management and the general human capital and resources of the bank.

The investment advisory reports included those of Afrinvest Group, FSDH Capital and CardinalStone among others.

Analysts were unanimous that Fidelity Bank’s share price could double in the period ahead given professional assessment of top traditional performance parameters including the company’s operational reports, investors’ preference and projections.

After an extensive review of the global and domestic stock markets, FSDH Capital selected Fidelity Bank as one of the “FSDH Top Picks”, a group of stocks that the investment advisory firm considered to be most attractive for discerning investors. FSDH Capital’s stock selection considered a stock’s pricing history, dividend history, fundamental values and peer ratios among others.

Providing background on analysts’ exhaustive research for stock selection, Afrinvest explained that the company’s fair value estimate “takes into account a weighted average of price estimates derived from a blend of valuation methodologies including the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) and its variants as well as other relative and comparable trading multiples valuation models”.

“However, we attach the most weight to DCF valuation methodology, particularly the Dividend Discount Model (DDM), Free Cash Flow (FCF) model and Residual Income Valuation/Model (RIV/RIM). The utilization of comparable trading multiples is guided by the analysts’ understanding of the banks’ fundamentals, as well as key price drivers from the firm, industry and macroeconomic perspectives,” Afrinvest stated.

The “buy” rating, according to analysts, implies that “the expected total return over the next 12 months is 25 per cent or more. Investors are advised to take positions at the prevailing market price as at the report date”.

Afrinvest projected that Fidelity Bank, with a dividend yield of 9.3 per cent, has price upside potential of more than 35 per cent. This effectively makes the stock an inflation-hedging stock, implying that investors in the bank’s shares can retain money value despite the current inflationary environment.

Futureview Group said Fidelity Bank’s recent operational reports highlighted the bank’s “excellent operational performance and the breadth of its income sources”.

The audited report and accounts of Fidelity Bank for the year ended December 31, 2023 had shown that gross earnings rose by 65 per cent to N555.83 billion. The top-line performance was driven by significant growths across income lines including 55 per cent growth in interest income, 562 per cent increase in other operating income and 44 per cent growth in fee and commission income.

The bottom-line fared better with net profit after tax rising by 99 per cent to N99.46 billion in 2023.  Earnings per share (EPS) thus jumped by 93 per cent to N3.11, providing a strong buffer for the bank to increase dividend payout without undermining its sustainability.

Interim report and account of the bank for the first quarter ended March 31, 2024 also showed that the bank started the current business year on stronger footing with three-digit growths across key performance indicators.

The three-month report, released at the Nigerian Exchange (NGX), showed that gross earnings increased by 89.9 per cent to N192.1 billion in first quarter 2024. The bank’s top-line performance continued to be driven by broad-based growths across income lines with interest income rising by 90.7 per cent and non-interest income growing by 84 per cent in first quarter 2024.

Growth in interest income was primarily spurred by a higher yield environment and strong earning assets base, while the increase in non-interest income was led by double-digit growth in account maintenance charges, foreign exchange (forex)-related income, trade, banking services, and remittances, supported by increased customer transactions.

Profit before tax doubled by 120 per cent to N39.5 billion in first quarter 2024 as against N17.9 billion in first quarter 2023. The bank’s performance was driven by expanding market share with total deposit rising by 17 per cent within the three months to N4.7 trillion, compared with N4 trillion recorded at the end of 2023. The bank also increased its supports for national economic growth with net loans and advances rising by 21 per cent from N3.1 trillion at the end of 2023 to N3.7 trillion by March 2024.

Managing Director, Fidelity Bank Plc, Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe said the bank’s performance was due to its strategic focus on customer-centricity, digital innovation and operational excellence.

“Despite the challenging macroeconomic environment, we remained resilient and agile, delivering double-digit growth on key income lines while advancing our business sustainability agenda.

 

“Beginning the year on this inspiring note reaffirms our strategy of helping individuals to grow, inspiring businesses to thrive and empowering economies to prosper. We are committed to our guidance as we build a more resilient business franchise with a well-diversified earnings base in 2024,” Onyeali-Ikpe said.

Ranked as one of the best banks in Nigeria, Fidelity Bank is a full-fledged customer commercial bank with over 8.5 million customers serviced across its 251 business offices in Nigeria and the United Kingdom as well as on digital banking channels.

The bank has won multiple local and international awards including the Export Finance Bank of the Year at the 2023 BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards, the Best Payment Solution Provider Nigeria 2023 and Best SME Bank Nigeria 2022 by the Global Banking and Finance Awards; Best Bank for SMEs in Nigeria by the Euromoney Awards for Excellence 2023; and Best Domestic Private Bank in Nigeria by the Euromoney Global Private Banking Awards 2023.

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Business

Abbey Mortgage Bank Cleared of Insider Trading Allegations

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Abbey Mortgage Bank Plc has been cleared of allegations regarding insider trading during a closed period, as initially stated in the Nigerian Exchange’s X-Compliance Report. After a review of the circumstances surrounding the case, the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) has decided not to enforce any penalties against the bank.
The initial report, dated May 10, had implied a breach of Rule 17:18, which governs the period of closure for trading activities by insiders who possess material, non-public information. Such periods are critical in maintaining market integrity and investor trust. However, upon closer examination and considering the explanations provided by Abbey Mortgage Bank, the NGX concluded that there was no substantial violation warranting a penalty.
Instead of a penalty, the NGX has mandated that Abbey Mortgage Bank attend a compliance training session, which is intended to reinforce adherence to regulatory standards and further ensure the bank’s commitment to best practices in corporate governance. This training, costing One million, two hundred and thirty thousand, one hundred and eighty (1,230,180) naira, highlights the NGX’s dedication to education and compliance over punitive measures.
Abbey Mortgage Bank, a leader in the Nigerian mortgage sector since its incorporation in August 1992, has continually demonstrated resilience and stability. With strategic growth initiatives, such as the addition of a significant investor in 2020, the bank has shown remarkable progress, including a 250% increase in customer deposits from N6 billion to N21 billion in 2021 and shareholders’ funds exceeding N8.5 billion.
This positive resolution highlights the importance of due process and the NGX’s role in maintaining transparency while supporting the growth and integrity of listed companies. Abbey Mortgage Bank’s proactive response and subsequent exoneration reinforces its reputation as a trusted and compliant financial institution, poised for continued success in the mortgage banking sector.
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FirstBank, Rotary Empower 102 Beneficiaries with N20m Start-Up Kits

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The First Bank of Nigeria Limited, with Rotary Club International, District 9110, has distributed N20 million worth start-up kits to 102 beneficiaries in Lagos to empower them across various trades.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that start-up kits distributed included: grinding machines, plumbing kits, deep freezers, sewing machines, generators, gas burners and cylinders, barbers and hairdressers kits, among others.

NAN further reports that the community intervention project had beneficiaries from the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria drawn from Lagos, Ogun and Oyo states.

Mrs Helen Ihonre, Unit Head, Other SME Products e-Business and Retail, FirstBank, during the presentation, offered insights on financial management and economic discipline. She emphasised the importance of maintaining records and accessing low-interest loans to support business growth and expansion.

She urged beneficiaries to prioritise saving from the inception of their businesses, while discouraging them from keeping funds at home, which might lead to misuse. “Start saving from the beginning of your business. Don’t wait till you sell then keep the money in your house”, she said.

Rotary District 9110 Governor, Ifeyinwa Ejezie, spoke on the significance of economic empowerment in Rotary’s initiatives and called for government collaboration to reach grassroots communities effectively. She emphasised the role of Rotary in complementing government efforts and stressed the need for recognition and partnership to enhance community development. She added that the N20 million items distributed were the largest the district had done in one empowerment initiative in recent times.

Bukola Bakare, Rotary International District Governor Nominee Designate, explained the process and challenges of raising funds for the project and how they incorporated Rotary from Singapore to absorb shocks from inflation. She said, “everything that has been given here today is free for the beneficiaries”.

She mentioned that FirstBank was a major sponsor for the project, adding that the 102 beneficiaries were chosen based on a needs analysis from Igbos, Hausa and Yorubas resident in Lagos, Ogun and Oyo states.

“FirstBank is our major supporter for this programme” she said.

Mr Babatunde Adewale, Permanent Board Member, Lagos State Universal Basic Education, lauded the empowerment programme, while reeling out contributions and projects of Rotary International to schools in the state. “We really appreciate Rotary and SUBEB will always continue to collaborate with them,” he said.

Mrs Kemi Kalesanwo, Director, Lagos State Agency for Mass Education, said that 22 out of the 102 beneficiaries were from the agency’s vocational training centres. Kalesanwo said that the state government believed in public, private partnership and was happy with the collaboration with Rotary and FirstBank.

She listed projects donated by Rotary to include construction of one of the eight vocational training centres, owned by the agency in Igbogbo area of Lagos. Kalesanwo, therefore, urged other Nigerians to support government programmes.

Otumba Wemmy Osunde, Chairman, Illisan Development Association, Ogun State, pledged personal commitment to ensuring beneficiaries utilise the items for economic gain. Adekunmi Adeniyi, an industrial gas burner and cylinder beneficiary alongside other beneficiaries expressed gratitude to Rotary International and FirstBank for the initiative. He acknowledged the impact on their respective trades and crafts.

Culled from NAN

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Embrace Artificial Intelligence, AI Expert Tells SMEs

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Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the country have been advised to embrace Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to grow their businesses. Founder AI Nigeria, Ehia Erhabor, made this submission in his presentation titled “Using AI for business innovation” delivered at the Ecobank MySME Growth Series webinar. He emphasied that AI is a gamechanger particularly for small businesses.

According to him, AI is rapidly transforming industries by automating processes, enhancing analytics, and enabling personalized customer experience, stressing that the future of AI is its democratization where companies of all sizes including SMEs can harness its power to drive innovation and gain competitive edge.

Specifically, Erhabor pointed out that “AI technology holds the key to the future. It is quite pervasive. It is part of our existence and will impact businesses the way we can ever imagine. It can help SMEs develop new products and services by analysing data and identifying customers’ needs. AI can also be used to automate repetitive tasks, streamline workflows, and improve efficiency by reducing operational costs.”

He listed the challenges and risks of AI as bias, explainability, privacy, transparency and misuse, debunking claims in some quarters that AI will lead to the end of the world but rather a tool for development.

Also speaking, former Chief Operating Officer, Flutterwave, Bode Abifari said AI technology holds the key to the future, explaining that it simulates human intelligence to perform complex tasks like research, decision making, pattern recognition and problem solving.

She submitted that AI was capable of improving customers’ experience and engagements for the SMEs, adding that the technology can personalize interactions, provide personalized recommendations and enhance customer service leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty for small businesses.

Ecobank MySME Growth Series which started in February this year is designed to empower SME operators across the country. It is part of the bank’s commitment to train over 1 million SME operators in various sectors of the economy in 2024.  The training will provide resources for starting a business, registration processes, industry statistics, and essential considerations for running a business. The series cover key areas such as accounting, credit, sales & marketing, taxation, and inventory management.

Additionally, articles on important topics like increasing sales, advertising ideas, business management practices, case studies, and leveraging technology will be provided.  Ecobank also plans to launch an SME Mentorship program to collaborate with successful entrepreneurs. Taken together, the MySME Growth Series reflects Ecobank’s dedication to fostering growth and success within the SME community.

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