First Abu Dhabi Bank, the United Arab Emirates’ biggest lender, posted a record net profit in 2021, fueled by the country’s economic recovery from the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shares fell more than three percent however after the bank said it would pay a lower dividend this year than last, split for the first time into cash and shares.
Chief Executive Hana Al Rostamani said the investment banking business had had “an exceptional year.” Earnings were helped by a 59 percent jump in non-interest income from a year earlier, driven by gains in investment banking and trading.
FAB reported a net profit of AED 12.53 billion ($3.41 billion) last year, up about 19 percent from AED 10.55 billion in 2020. According to Refinitiv Eikon data, the UAE lender was expected to report an annual net profit of AED 12 billion.
The bank also reported a fourth-quarter net profit of AED 3.3 billion, up 3 percent from a year earlier, which beat analysts’ estimates.
Its proposed dividend of AED 0.70 per share was lower than the AED 0.74 paid out in 2020, which partly hurt FAB’s share price on Thursday, one analyst said.
FAB shares were down 3.4 percent in afternoon trade, underperforming the benchmark Abu Dhabi index that fell 1.4 percent. The bank’s shares are still up 5.6 percent year-to-date on improving earnings expectations amid higher interest rates.
The lender said the dividend will be split into AED 0.49 a share in cash and AED 0.21 as scrip dividend. New shares will be issued at 17.97 a share, it said.
Smaller rival Emirates NBD posted a 34 percent rise in annual profit on Wednesday.
FAB last year acquired the Egyptian unit of Bank Audi, which helped revenue from its international operations grow 26 percent year-on-year.