Bloomberg News

Anglo Gains as Bank Sticks to Target Amid Slowdown

February 01, 2008

Anglo Irish Bank Plc gained in Dublin trading after Ireland's third-largest lender stuck to a target of boosting earnings per share by 15 percent this year and said the start of its fiscal year has been ``strong.''

The stock rose 50 cents, or 5.3 percent, to 9.90 euros in Dublin. The company has a market value of 7.5 billion euros ($11.1 billion).

``Notwithstanding the current dislocation in wider financial markets, the first four months of business have been strong,'' Chairman Sean Fitzpatrick said today at the Dublin-based company's annual shareholder meeting. The bank is ``cautious in our outlook, given the risk of further deterioration in the global environment,'' he added.

The shares of Ireland's main banks, including Anglo Irish, have tumbled in the past year on concern the fallout from the U.S. subprime crisis and Ireland's cooling residential property market will crimp earnings growth. Anglo's shares have dropped 37 percent over the past year.

Fitzpatrick, who said the decline in the bank's share price was ``unjustified,'' told investors that the stock will recover. ``We've got to drive earnings and the share price will take care of itself,'' Fitzpatrick said.

Anglo Irish is benefiting from ``strong'' funding and liquidity and its asset quality remains ``excellent,'' Fitzpatrick said. Ireland's economic fundamentals are ``sound,'' he added.

Chief Executive Officer David Drumm said today that earnings may rise by 15 percent to 20 percent in the ``medium and long term.''

``We're still confident about the bank,'' Drumm told reporters, adding that the company hasn't experienced rising bad debts in the first four months of the financial year. ``You have to be cautious given what's on the horizon.''

To contact the reporters on this story: Dara Doyle in Dublin at ddoyle1@bloomberg.net Louisa Nesbitt in Dublin at lnesbitt@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Riad Hamade at rhamade@bloomberg.net


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