* NAB posts 9.3 percent rise in full-year cash earnings
* Bad debt provisions fall 26 pct
* Final dividend up 7 cents to 97 cents; revenue up 2 pct
* "Big Four" on track for combined record results
By Jackie Range
SYDNEY, Oct 31 National Australia Bank Ltd
, the country's top lender by assets, said full-year
cash earnings rose 9.3 percent to a record high, boosted by
earnings growth in all its banking businesses and a lower charge
for bad debts.
The result made it the third of Australia's "Big Four" banks
to report a record annual profit, although its earnings
potential has been constrained by its struggling British
NAB, the smallest of the quartet by market value, booked
cash earnings of A$5.9 billion ($5.60 billion), beating a
consensus estimate of A$5.8 billion from three analysts surveyed
Cash earnings, which excludes one-off and non-cash
accounting items, are closely watched by investors.
"The group's full year results show an improved performance
across most business units, combined with solid progress against
our simplification and digitisation agenda," Chief Executive
Cameron Clyne said in a statement.
Full year bad debt provisions fell to A$1.9 billion,
compared with A$2.6 billion a year ago, helped by some
improvement in the UK banking environment.
NAB's troubled British business, which includes Yorkshire
and Clydesdale bank branches, has been weighing on its
performance and investors are watching for the bank's potential
exit of its assets there.
NAB's wealth division saw a 5 percent fall in its cash
Revenues grew 2 percent to A$18.6 billion, confirming
analysts' expectations of slower topline growth. Statutory
profit rose 33.6 percent to A$5.45 billion.
NAB has about a quarter of the business lending market in
Australia and has been gaining market share in the mortgage
Australia's "Big Four" banks - NAB, Australia and New
Zealand Banking Group Ltd, Commonwealth Bank of
Australia, and Westpac Banking Corp - have
been doling out lofty dividends as they post record results.
NAB continued the trend with a 7.8 percent rise in its final
dividend to A$0.97.
The earnings boon has boosted the banks' share prices, with
ANZ stock hitting a new record when it announced its earnings on
NAB shares have gained about 45 percent this year,
outstripping a 17 percent rise in the broader market.
($1 = 1.0537 Australian dollars)
(Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Lincoln Feast)