Here’s a bank that can walk and chew gum – lift profits, pay more dividends to shareholders, employ more people, improve service in branches and keep fee income to a modest increase, all at the same time.

Of course it helps to have, as the ANZ says, “the best credit quality conditions in a decade.” These allowed the bank to trim what it puts away for a rainy day in its various provisions, while the amount of loans on a non-accrual basis also fell, which is handy.

All up, the ANZ cracked the $3 billion profit mark for the first time. But without the acquisition of the National Bank of New Zealand, the ANZ would have been hard pressed reaching $2.4 billion – here’s an early report.

Analysts and big investors will probably fret and gnaw at the news that costs rose 12% over the year compared to an 8% growth in revenue, but that was the cost of adding a further 2,221 full time equivalent jobs over the year and higher spending on marketing. And the cost-to-income ratio was still a very healthy 45.6%, with the aim to reduce this to around 40% over the next three years by lifting revenues by 7-9% a year.

Total dividends are $1.10 a share for the year (59c final) out of earnings per share of $1.72, so there’s plenty of room there for another lift in the coming year to keep investors sweet should costs prove too much of a worry.

But the nellies among investors bolted at the first look at the results and the rise in costs, the stock losing 22c in the first ten minutes of trading to $23.40.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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