CBA set to lift profit and dividends
Market watch top headlines
Commonwealth Bank is expected to post another bumper profit for the first half of the financial year, and shareholders are set to be the big winners.
Analysts expect Australia's largest home lender to post a cash profit of about $3.7 billion for the six months to December 31 when it reports to the market on Wednesday.
Cash profit is a measure used by banks to reflect its underlying financial performance, excluding longer-term financial items such as asset values and hedging activities.
CBA made a cash profit of $7.11 billion in the 2011/12 financial year, and will be on track to beat that if it meets analysts' expectations on Wednesday.
Aside from the profit numbers, investors will be interested in how the bank's customers are faring on loan repayments, and whether CBA's margins on interest rates have improved after reducing rates by less than the central bank.
Some analysts are also expecting the major banks to increase their returns to their shareholders in the near future, as profits rise but demand for loans remains subdued.
The banks are also well capitalised ahead of the introduction of new industry regulations, reducing the need to hold onto large levels of excess capital.
"We are increasingly confident in our major bank earnings and dividend forecasts for fiscal 2013, with economic conditions in Australia holding relatively steady despite well publicised headwinds and uncertainty," Morningstar analyst David Ellis said in a report on the industry.
"Strong profitability and capital cushions at Australian major banks support a sustainable stream of fully franked dividends."
CBA's dividends have been on a steady rise since 2009, and it aims to pay out up to 80 per cent of its cash profit to shareholders.
The bank is the only one of the major four that will report its half year profit in February, with the remainder having a different balance date.
ANZ will issue a third quarter trading update on Friday.