(Adds details on Mexico unit, CEO and analysts' comments;
updates share movement)
Feb 26 Emerging markets lender International
Personal Finance Plc reported a 24 percent jump in
full-year profit, helped by a marked rise in credit to customers
in Mexico and Poland.
IPF shares rose as much as 7 percent, making them top
percentage gainers on the FTSE-250 Midcap Index on
The company said total credit issued rose 15 percent to 1.05
billion pounds ($1.75 billion). Credit issued in Mexico jumped
32 percent to 196.9 million pounds, while that in Poland - its
biggest market - rose about 17 percent.
"Improving economies and consumer confidence from the
recessionary lows will remain a positive trend," Panmure Gordon
analyst Keith Baird said in a note.
"Mexico in particular offers the biggest upside on growth
given the expansion there."
IPF, which lends to about 2.6 million borrowers in eastern
Europe and Mexico, reported a 58 percent rise in profit in its
"We are bullish on all our markets in 2014, in particular
Mexico," Chief Executive Gerard Ryan told Reuters.
The company said it expects its Mexican operation to grow to
3 million customers in "the medium term" from 744,000 as of Dec.
Profit per customer jumped 50 percent to 21 pounds in
Mexico, where it has 58 branches. The lender said it planned to
open 5 offices in the country in 2014.
Brokerage Peel Hunt said in a note that Mexico and Hungary
were the stand-out performers for the company.
The company's Mexico business is on track to meet its 33
pounds per customer target by 2015, the brokerage said.
WORRIES IN POLAND
The regulatory uncertainty on IPF's Polish operations could
cast a shadow on the stock until a resolution is reached, some
IPF said in December that it was fined about 2.4 million
pounds by Polish authorities over the way it calculated some of
its APR (annual percentage rate) lending terms.
"We disagree with UOKiK's (Office of Competition and
Consumer Protection) decision and have legal opinion supporting
our view that the way we calculate our fees is correct," the
company said in its earnings statement on Wednesday.
Full-year underlying pretax profit rose to 118.1 million
pounds ($197.02 million) from 95.1 million pounds a year
Revenue rose 14.6 percent to 746.8 million pounds.
The lender also raised its final dividend to 5.5 pence per
share, taking the total payout for the year to 9.3 pence.
Leeds-based IPF's shares were up 6 percent at 535 pence at
1032 GMT on the London Stock Exchange.
($1 = 0.60 British pounds)
(Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bangalore; Editing by
Supriya Kurane and Gopakumar Warrier)