Earnings of Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. went up by 14 percent to P12.1 billion in the first quarter from P10.6 billion in the same quarter last year, largely due to the consistent growth of its lending portfolio, better operational efficiencies as well as stable asset quality.

'As we remain focused on sustaining the bank's profitability, our strong commitment to our customers is at the center of our growth strategy. We will consistently offer tailored financial solutions that directly address the needs and goals of those we serve to help them build a more prosperous future,' Metrobank president Fabian Dee said.

In a disclosure sent to the Philippine Stock Exchange, the Ty-led bank's earnings translated to a 13.7 percent return on equity, higher than the 13.1 percent recorded in the same quarter last year.

Metrobank's net interest income increased by 15.4 percent to P28.7 billion in the first quarter from P24.9 billion, lifted by higher interest earning assets and a one-basis-point hike in net interest margin to four percent.

The listed bank's loan book grew by 12.1 percent year-on-year, driven by the 11.2-percent rise in commercial loans and 15.3-percent expansion in consumer loans.

According to the bank, the strong growth in consumer loans business was mainly driven by the 25.5-percent jump in credit card receivables and 18.2-percent rise in auto loans.

During the quarter, the non-performing loan (NPL) ratio of the bank eased to 1.7 percent from 1.8 percent. This is also below the industry-average of 3.5 percent in February.

'The stable asset quality enabled the bank to trim provisions to P562 million during the quarter from P2.4 billion a year ago. The bank's NPL cover remains robust at 174.1 percent, a substantial buffer against any potential risks to the loan portfolio,' Metrobank said.

Metrobank's deposit base inched up by 4.9 percent to P2.4 trillion, of which low-cost current and savings account accounted for 58.6 percent.

Its operating expenses went up by 6.5 percent in the first quarter. This resulted in an improvement in cost to income ratio, which stood at 51.3 percent from 51.6 percent last year.

The lender's total equity reached P345.7 billion. Its capital ratios remain one of the highest in the industry, with capital adequacy ratio at 16.8 percent and common equity tier 1 ratio at 16 percent, all well above the minimum regulatory requirement.

The bank's total consolidated assets grew by 10.7 percent to P3.2 trillion in the first quarter, marking the second highest asset base among the country's private universal banks.

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