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Erste Group Bank AG
Ansprechpartner: Thomas Sommerauer/ Simone Pilz
Tel.: +43 (0)5 0100 - 17326
E-Mail: thomas.sommerauer@erstegroup.com

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18.02.2021 - 17:25 | Erste Group Bank AG
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pta20210226008
Business news for the stock market

Erste Group Bank AG: Preliminary results 2020

Net profit of EUR 783.1 million in 2020; Erste Group proposes dividend of EUR 0.5 per share


Vienna (pta008/26.02.2021/07:30) - Excerpt - Highlights & outlook

For performance in detail, financial results - QoQ comparison, balance sheet develoment, segment reporting and additional financial data tables see enclosed pdf

HIGHLIGHTS
P&L 2020 compared with 2019; balance sheet as of 31 December 2020 compared with 31 December 2019

Net interest income increased - mainly in Austria, but also in Romania and Hungary - to EUR 4,774.8 million (+0.6%; EUR 4,746.8 million). Net fee and commission income decreased to EUR 1,976.8 million (-1.2%; EUR 2,000.1 million). Higher income from the securities business and asset management did not fully compensate for the declines in other fee and commission income categories - most notably in payment services (thereof EUR 19 million attributable to the impact of the SEPA Payment Services Directive). While net trading result declined significantly to EUR 137.6 million (EUR 318.3 million), the line item gains/losses from financial instruments measured at fair value through profit or loss improved to EUR 62.0 million (EUR -24.5 million). The development of both line items was driven by valuation effects due to market volatility amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Operating income decreased to EUR 7,155.1 million (-1.4%; EUR 7,255.9 million). General administrative expenses declined to EUR 4,220.5 million (-1.5%; EUR 4,283.3 million), personnel expenses were slightly lower at EUR 2,520.7 million (-0.6%; EUR 2,537.1 million). Other administrative expenses were reduced to EUR 1,158.9 million (-3.8%; EUR 1,205.1 million). Payments into deposit insurance schemes included in other administrative expenses rose to EUR 132.2 million (EUR 104.8 million). Depreciation and amortisation was unchanged at EUR 540.9 million (EUR 541.0 million). Overall, the operating result declined to EUR 2,934.6 million (-1.3%; EUR 2,972.7 million). The cost/income ratio was unchanged at 59.0% (59.0%).

Due to net allocations, the impairment result from financial instruments amounted to EUR -1,294.8 million or 78 basis points of average gross customers loans (EUR -39.2 million or 7 basis points). Allocations to provisions for loans as well as for commitments and guarantees given went up in all core markets. The marked rise in allocations to provisions for loans was primarily driven by the deterioration in the macroeconomic outlook due to Covid-19. A positive contribution came from high income from the recovery of loans already written off, primarily in Romania and Hungary. The NPL ratio based on gross customer loans deteriorated to 2.7% (2.5%), the NPL coverage ratio rose to 88.6% (77.1%).

Other operating result improved to EUR -278.3 million (EUR -628.2 million). The expenses for the annual contributions to resolution funds included in this line item rose - in particular in Austria - to EUR 93.5 million (EUR 75.3 million). The decline in banking and transaction taxes to EUR 117.7 million (EUR 128.0 million) is primarily attributable to the abolition of banking tax in Romania. In the previous year, other operating result included allocations to a provision in the amount of EUR 153.3 million set aside for losses expected from a supreme court decision concerning the business activities of a Romanian subsidiary as well as the write-off of goodwill in Slovakia in the amount of EUR 165.0 million.

Taxes on income declined to EUR 342.5 million (EUR 418.7 million). The minority charge fell to EUR 242.3 million (EUR 440.9 million) due to significantly lower earnings contribution of the savings banks. The net result attributable to owners of the parent declined to EUR 783.1 million (-46.7%; EUR 1,470.1 million).

Total equity not including AT1 instruments rose to EUR 19.7 billion (EUR 19.0 billion). After regulatory deductions and filtering in accordance with CRR, common equity tier 1 capital (CET1, final) increased to EUR 17.1 billion (+4.9%; EUR 16.3 billion), total own funds (CRR final) to EUR 23.6 billion (EUR 22.0 billion). Total risk (risk-weighted assets) including credit, market and operational risk, CRR final) rose to EUR 120.2 billion (+1,3%; EUR 118.6 billion). The common equity tier 1 ratio (CET 1, CRR final) increased to 14.2% (13.7%), the total capital ratio to 19.7% (18.5%).

Total assets rose to EUR 277.4 billion (EUR 245.7 billion). On the asset side, cash and cash balances increased, primarily in Austria, to EUR 35.8 billion (EUR 10.7 billion), loans and advances to banks decreased to EUR 21.5 billion (EUR 23.1 billion). Loans and advances to customers increased to EUR 166.1 billion (+3.6%; EUR 160.3 billion). On the liability side, deposits from banks grew significantly to EUR 24.8 billion (EUR 13.1 billion) on the back of increased ECB refinancing (TLTROs). Customer deposits rose again - in all core markets, primarily in Austria and the Czech Republic - to EUR 191.1 billion (+9.9%; EUR 173.8 billion). The loan-to-deposit ratio stood at 86.9% (92.2%).

OUTLOOK

Erste Group's goal for 2021 is to increase net profit. Among the factors that will support achievement of this goal are a recovery of the economies of all core markets - the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Croatia, Serbia and Austria - and, on this basis, a reduction of risk costs and an improvement in the operating result. A continuation or further escalation of Covid-19 measures by governments as well as potential - and as yet unquantifiable - political, regulatory or economic risks may render meeting this goal more challenging.

In 2021, the positive development of the economy should be reflected in growth rates (real GDP growth) of between 3% and close to 6% in Erste Group's CEE core markets. The development of other economic indicators should vary depending on Covid-19 policy measures imposed by authorities and/or the phasing out of state support. Unemployment rates are expected to rise but, in the Czech Republic and Hungary, should remain among the lowest in the EU. Inflation rates are forecast to decline in the Czech Republic and Slovakia while the other core markets are likely to see a slight acceleration. In most countries, sustained competitiveness should again result in solid and, in Slovakia and Romania, stronger current account balances. The fiscal situation should likewise improve again after the significant budget deficits posted in the year 2020. Public debt is projected to remain largely stable, albeit at a significantly elevated level.

Against this backdrop, Erste Group expects net loan growth in the low to mid-single digit range. This performance should keep net interest income stable despite negative interest rates in the euro zone. The second most important income component - net fee and commission income - is expected to rise in low single digits. As in 2020, positive momentum should again come from fund management, the securities business and insurance brokerage. Given the average result seen in 2020, the net trading and fair value result is expected to come in higher. This, however, will depend substantially on the financial market environment. The remaining income components are forecast to remain, by and large, stable. Overall, operating income should increase again in 2021. Operating expenses are expected to rise slightly in 2021, partly due to re-emerging wage pressure across all Erste Group markets. In addition, Erste Group will continue to invest in IT in 2021, and thus strengthen its competitive position, with a focus on progressive IT modernisation, back-office digitalisation and expansion of the digital platform George. The rollout of George in Hungary and Croatia should be completed in 2021, as a result of which customers will be able to access George in the six largest core markets. Though faced with more challenges in a largely unpredictable environment, Erste Group is striving to make operating income grow faster than costs. This leads Erste Group to project a rise in the operating result in 2021.

Based on the scenario described above, risks costs should decline again in 2021. While precise forecasting is hard in the current Covid-19 environment, Erste Group believes that in 2021 risk costs will not exceed 65 basis points of average gross customer loans. Due to the expected expiry of state support schemes a rise of the NPL ratio to 3-4% is expected though.

Other operating result is expected to remain unchanged in the absence of significant one-off effects. Assuming a tax rate of below 25% and a similar level of minority charges as in the previous year, Erste Group aims to achieve an improvement in net profit. Erste Group's CET1 ratio is expected to remain strong. The management board proposes to the annual general meeting in May - in line with ECB recommendation - a dividend for 2020 of EUR 0.5 per share. An additional EUR 1/share has been reserved for a potential later payment.

Potential risks to the guidance are besides other than expected (geo)political, economic (monetary and fiscal policies) und regulatory measures and developments also global health risks or changes to the competitive environment. In addition, given the Covid-19 governmental measures and their impact on the economic development, financial forecasts are still subject to an elevated level of uncertainty. Erste Group is moreover exposed to non-financial and legal risks that may materialise regardless of the economic environment. Worse than expected economic development may put goodwill at risk.

(end)
emitter: Erste Group Bank AG
Am Belvedere 1
1100 Wien
Austria
contact person: Thomas Sommerauer/ Simone Pilz
phone: +43 (0)5 0100 - 17326
e-mail: thomas.sommerauer@erstegroup.com
website: www.erstegroup.com
stock exchanges: official trade in Vienna
ISIN(s): AT0000652011 (share)
other stock exchanges: Bucharest Stock Exchange, Prague Stock Exchange
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