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Positive signs. Loan disbursements, repayments, applications and
approvals rebounded with strong double-digit MoM growth, flattish-tolow-
teens YoY growth, and in absolute term, were back to pre-Aug/Sep
’08 levels. Absolute NPLs continued to inch lower, mainly from the
working capital segment. Nonetheless, it is early to tell whether these
are sustainable as global fundamentals remain weak.
Strong loan disbursements and repayments. Banking loans (net of
repayments) grew to RM733.9m in Mar ’09 (+0.6% MoM, +10.9% YoY)
on expansion in both household (+0.4% MoM, +8.8% YoY) and
business loans (+0.9% MoM, +9.5% YoY). The pace of disbursements
and repayments was strong (disbursements: +27.4% MoM, +9% YoY;
repayments: +15.7% MoM, +4.8% YoY), mainly for working capital.
YTD loans growth was +1% (household: +1.5%, business: +0.5%).
Forward indicators bounced MoM but still flattish YoY. Loan
applications and approvals also rebounded strongly: +24.3% MoM and
+35.3% MoM respectively. On a YoY comparison, loan applications
were up 4.7%, driven by household loan applications (+21.5%), mainly
for home purchases, which off-set lower applications from businesses
(-11%). Overall loan approvals were rather flattish YoY, with approvals
up for household loans (+12.6%) but down for business loans (-13%).
Absolute NPLs contracted further. Absolute gross NPLs continued
to inch lower, at a slightly higher pace of -3.7% MoM to RM33.6b (Feb
‘09: -0.04% MoM). On a 3-month comparison (see table in page 4),
the lower NPLs came mainly from the working capital segment,
reflecting perhaps resilient business strength. Meanwhile, net NPL ratio
was little changed at 2.24% (Feb ‘09: 2.23%).
Remain Underweight. YTD loans growth, if sustained, should lead to
the upper end of our 2-3% loans growth forecast for 2009. Our other
assumption is for absolute NPLs to expand by 50% YoY by end-2009,
leading to a projected 10% decline in combined net profit for 2009.
While loans quality was resilient in Mar ’09, we remain concerned over
rising NPLs – our analysis shows a 3-6 months interval from GDP
trough to NPL peak. The other main risk is a protracted economic
slowdown leading to rising unemployment and asset deflation.