Friday, 23 March, 2018

Lloyds hails 'landmark' after return to private sector

Lloyds share price Analysts flag rise in dividend Lloyds' first results back in private hands are best since financial crisis
Nellie Chapman | 21 February, 2018, 15:09

Lloyds Banking Group (LON:LLOY) is expected to deliver good news to investors in the form of an increased dividend this week, The Telegraph reports.

The FCA says it will not permit any more claims regarding the historic mis-selling of PPI after 29 August 2019.

Lloyds' reported a 24% increase in statutory pre-tax profits for 2017 to nearly £5.3bn.

It also announced it will hand £1bn to shareholders with a share buyback and it will pay a dividend of 3.05 pence per share, up 20% on 2016.

That brings the total to more than £19 billion - far in excess of any other British bank caught up in the long-running scandal. In 2016, the bank said a further 3,000 jobs would go and last month revealed plans to eliminate about 1,000 roles.

Horta-Osorio said that while Britain was facing a period of political and economic uncertainty, the economy was resilient and the bank expected similar growth levels in 2018 as the country had seen previous year.

Lloyds, Britain's biggest mortgage lender, reported its highest full-year profit since 2006 last year. The group has set aside an extra £600m in the fourth quarter of past year to pay compensation over mis-sold PPI, bringing the annual total to £1.6bn. Pre-tax profits are significantly higher, albeit slightly below expectations, whilst the majority of key metrics display strong improvement.

Helal Miah, investment research analyst at The Share Centre, said the bank was heading in the right direction after a decade-long restructuring after the financial crisis.

Should you buy shares in Lloyds?

The results mark the latest stage in the lender's recovery under chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio and come after the Government in May finally divested its remaining holdings in the business after its £20bn taxpayer rescue.

"There's a lot to like in Lloyds' numbers, with profits rising, costs under control, and prodigious amounts of cash being thrown off to shareholders", Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said in a note.

Mr Hunter says: "The general market view of the shares as a buy is nearly certain to remain intact after these results".

Horta-Osório said this strategy will drive the bank's transformation into a "digitised, simple, low risk, customer focused United Kingdom financial services provider".

Mr Horta-Osorio unveiled a new three-year strategic plan which will see it invest more than £3bn, focusing on boosting its digital capabilities.