Pitting Nigeria and Kenya’s biggest banks by market value against each other shows just how much state intervention hurt Nairobi-based Equity Group Holdings Ltd., while Guaranty Trust Bank Plc in Lagos fended off a contracting economy by benefiting from a weaker local currency.
Equity Group reported its first-ever drop in annual profit last week as non-performing loans more than doubled and lending in the final quarter shrank in the wake of interest-rate caps announced in August in East Africa’s biggest economy. By contrast, GTB’s net income climbed 33 percent as earnings from lending increased and the naira’s decline against the dollar boosted non-interest revenue.
“GTB stands out in the Nigerian banking sector based on their ability to optimize their balance sheet and conservatively position themselves against any unforeseen shocks,” said Craig Metherell, an analyst at Avior Capital Markets Ltd. in Cape Town who has a buy recommendation on the stock. He maintained his hold rating on Equity’s shares, saying they are trading close to fair value and that the stock will probably only be re-evaluated should Kenya relax the rate-cap rules, which is only likely after elections scheduled for August.