ANZ lifts H1 cash profit

Lender lifts cash profit by 11%, announces interim dividend of 83c.

ANZ has lifted its first-half cash profit by 11%, well ahead of analyst forecasts, as its international business continues to see strong growth.

In the six months to March 31, ANZ recorded a cash profit of $3.52 billion, beating analyst expectations of a $3.4bn result.

The lender's cash profit came on the back of a 7% rise in operating income to $9.52bn, from the $8.94bn recorded in the first half of the previous year.

Net statutory profit attributable to shareholders rose 15% to $3.382 billion, from $2.94bn in the previous corresponding period.

ANZ will pay a fully-franked interim dividend of 83c on July 1, to shareholders on the register at May 13. In the previous corresponding period, ANZ's interim dividend 73c.

ANZ chief executive Mike Smith said the results were consistent with the lender's long-term strategy to grow its core franchises in Australia and New Zealand, while also build a profitable franchise in Asia Pacific.

Profit from the banks international operations were up nine%, driven particularly by growth from Asia, while the global wealth division lifted profits 11%.

"The diversification this strategy provides is now delivering a differentiated proposition for our customers and improved returns for shareholders," he said.

"Our international business, particularly Asia, is firing on all cylinders with revenue and profits again growing strongly, and a sustained improvement in returns."

"Profits from international and institutional [divisions] in Asia Pacific, Europe and Americas (APEA) are up 43% based on significant growth in customer numbers and in products that support regional trade and investment flows such as foreign exchange, cash management and trade finance."

Locally, Mr Smith said the lender was reaping ongoing benefits from its 'Banking on Australia' program which includes new digital solutions for customers. Profit from the bank's Australian division lifted five% thanks to strong growth in home loans and loans to small businesses.

"We have developed greater scale based on market share growth in home lending, small business lending and retail deposits," he said.

However, Mr Smith noted that business confidence in Australia is recovering more slowly than many had expected, with growth in some segments remaining subdued with competition placing pressure on margins.

Meanwhile, ANZ lifted profit from its New Zealand business 21% after the bank grew its market share and improved productivity and credit quality.