CBA H1 cash profit beats expectations

Lender increases first-half profit, interim dividend; says it is 'cautiously optimistic' of economic environment in year ahead.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia Ltd has posted a strong lift in first-half cash profit despite saying it remains only cautiously optimistic of the year ahead's economic environment.

In the six months to December 31, the lender posted a cash profit of $4.27 billion, an increase of 14% on the $3.75 billion recorded in the first half of 2013.

The profit result exceeded analysts' expectations.

A survey of nine analysts had the median forecast for cash profit in the period at $4.17 billion, Bloomberg said.

In the same period, statutory net profit was $4.207 billion, a 16% lift on the previous corresponding period's $3.63 billion.

Australia's largest bank will pay a fully-franked interim dividend of $1.83, an increase of 12% on the previous corresponding period's dividend.

The dividend will be paid on April 3, and has an ex-dividend date of February 17.

A survey of nine analysts estimated the interim dividend would be $1.80, Bloomberg said.