UNB Drops Most Since 2009 as Dividend Lowered: Abu Dhabi Mover

Union National Bank PJSC declined the most in more than three years after the lender, whose shareholders include the Abu Dhabi and Dubai governments, cut its full-year cash dividend by 33 percent.

The shares slumped 8.5 percent, the largest decrease since December 2009, to 3.35 dirhams at the close in Abu Dhabi. About 3.7 million shares were traded, more than four times the three-month daily average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The stock was the biggest decliner on the benchmark ADX General Index, which fell 0.1 percent.

Union National, which today reported a 6 percent increase in 2012 profit to 1.6 billion dirhams ($436 million), lowered its recommended cash dividend to 10 fils, from 15 fils last year, in addition to offering 5 percent bonus shares. The lower dividend comes after Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC boosted its cash payout to 25 percent from 20 percent.

“We are still scratching our head on why UNB hasn’t increased its dividend per share” given the company’s full-year earnings growth, Jaap Meijer, a director at Arqaam Capital Ltd., said in an e-mailed note today. “A hike in dividend per share would have been a great catalyst to get the shares closer to the fair value” of 4.7 dirhams, said Meijer, who has a buy rating on the stock.

Union National has a 12-month dividend yield of 4.48 percent, compared with 4.2 percent for the ADX Banks Index. Its shares jumped 24 percent in January, the biggest monthly gain since September 2009, outpacing an advance of 9.5 percent for the Abu Dhabi gauge.

Funding is at a “very comfortable level” as a 6 percent increase in assets was driven by excess cash from higher deposit growth, according to Meijer. Union National’s capital adequacy ratio, which measures the financial strength of a bank, rose to 23.2 percent from 21.9 percent, it said today.

Seven analysts have a buy rating on Union National, while three recommend holding the shares, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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