Washington Federal’s ( WAFD Quick Quote WAFD - Free Report) first-quarter fiscal 2021 (ended Dec 31) earnings of 51 cents per share surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 42 cents. However, the figure reflects a year-over-year decline of 40.7%. A decline in expenses and marginally higher net interest income (NII) primarily aided the results. Also, the balance sheet position remained strong in the quarter. However, lower other income was an undermining factor. Worsening credit quality was another negative for the company. Net income was $39 million, down from $67.9 million recorded a year ago. Revenues & Expenses Decline
Net revenues were $134.4 million, down 19.1% from the year-ago quarter. The top-line figure surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $127.6 million.
NII was $120.5 million, up marginally from the year-earlier period. Net interest margin (NIM) was 2.75%, down 40 basis points (bps) year over year. Total other income of $13.9 million declined 70.1% from the prior-year quarter. The decline resulted from significantly lower other income and a fall in deposit fee income. Expenses amounted to $81.4 million, down 1.5% year over year. Lower occupancy costs along with a decline in information technology and other expenses led to the fall. The company’s efficiency ratio was 60.58%, up from 57.05% recorded a year ago. A rise in efficiency ratio indicates deterioration in profitability. At the end of the fiscal first quarter, return on average common equity was 7.65%, down from 13.46% witnessed at the end of the year-ago quarter. Return on average assets was 0.83%, down from 1.66% at the end of the year-ago quarter. Balance Sheet Strong
As of Dec 31, 2020, net loans receivables amounted to $12.9 billion, up marginally from $12.8 billion recorded on Sep 30, 2020. Customer deposits were $14.2 billion, up 2.8% from the previous-quarter end.
Credit Quality Deteriorates
As of Dec 31, 2020, the ratio of non-performing assets to total assets was 0.35%, up from 0.24% on Sep 30, 2020. Allowance for loan losses and reserve for unfunded commitments were 1.33% of gross loans outstanding, up from 1.31% recorded on Dec 31, 2019.
In the reported quarter, the company recorded provision for credit losses of $3 million against provision release of $3.8 million recorded in the prior-year quarter. Share Repurchase Update
During the reported quarter, Washington Federal repurchased 32,956 shares at an average price of $21.29 per share.
Elevated operating expenses (owing to investments in technology upgrades) are expected to hurt the bottom line to an extent in the near term. Moreover, near-zero interest rates will likely continue to hamper the company's NIM and revenue growth.
Currently, Washington Federal carries a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell).
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