March 13 (Bloomberg) -- Nigerian banks climbed the most in more than a month on investor expectations that improved earnings will generate better dividends.
The Bloomberg NSE Banking Index, which tracks the performance of the 10 largest lenders by market value in Africa’s most populous country, advanced 1.1 percent, the biggest gain since Feb. 5, to 422.3 at the 2:30 p.m. close in Lagos, the commercial capital, the highest level since Feb. 6. The measure has added 24 percent this year.
“There’s a lot of focus on the part of investors on recovery,” Adeolu Omotola, an equity analyst at Asset and Resource Management Company Ltd., said by phone today from Lagos. “Of course you’re talking about improved dividend yields because a lot of them you’d expect would have to increase payout.”
Nigeria implemented banking reforms following a debt crisis in 2008 and 2009. The central bank fired eight chief executives of the country’s 24 banks and set up a company to buy lenders’ bad debts and stabilize the industry. The Asset Management Corp. of Nigeria, or Amcon, spent 5.6 trillion naira ($35.2 billion) in 2011 to acquire non-performing loans, Chief Executive Officer Mustafa Chike-Obi said in December.
United Bank for Africa Plc, the West African nation’s fifth biggest bank by market value, jumped 9.8 percent to 9 naira, its highest close in almost three years. The lender’s nine-month profit surged five-fold to 39.1 billion naira, it said in October. Skye Bank Plc shares increased 4.3 percent to 6.57 naira, their strongest price since July 2011.
Nigerian stock “valuations are generally more attractive for banks, which have yet to report for quarter four,” Gregory Kronsten and Olubunmi Asaolu, strategists at FBN Capital Ltd., wrote in a note to clients today.
The All-Share index of Africa’s biggest oil producer and second-largest bourse has jumped 19 percent this year, the fifth-best performer globally.
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