NAB First-Half Cash Profit Rises 3.1% on Personal Banking Gain

National Australia Bank Ltd. (NAB), the country’s largest lender by assets, boosted first-half cash profit by 3.1 percent on higher earnings in personal and wholesale banking.

Cash profit, which excludes one-time items, climbed to A$2.92 billion ($2.97 billion) in the six months ended March 31 from A$2.83 billion a year earlier, the Melbourne-based lender said in a statement today. Analysts estimated earnings on that basis of A$2.89 billion, the median prediction of nine surveyed by Bloomberg News. Net profit for the period increased 23 percent to A$2.52 billion.

Chief Executive Officer Cameron Clyne is seeking a bigger share of Australia’s mortgage lending, which is growing at its slowest pace ever. Clyne plans to shed A$800 million in cost over five years as the bank simplifies products and invests in new technology after paring U.K. operations, where mounting bad debts last year triggered the first profit drop since 2009.

“The management is on the right track to bury the problems of the past,” David Ellis, an analyst at Morningstar Inc. (MORN), said before the earnings announcement. “Investors are gaining more confidence with no new disasters in recent times.”

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