ANZ profits up 7% for first three quarters

ANZ (ASX: ANZ) has today announced a $4.7 billion profit for the nine months ending June 30, which was an increase of 7% compared to the previous corresponding period. A cash profit increase of 11% to $4.8 billion was also reported, whilst the company’s CEO, Mike Smith, stated that there is “cause for great optimism” in the medium term.

Throughout the period, the group has continued to focus on improving overall business efficiency and productivity, with Smith stating that this would allow the bank to “continue to invest in our growth strategy for the longer term while also improving shareholder returns in the near term.”

One such long-term strategy that Smith refers to is the bank’s ‘super regional strategy’, which began in 2007. By 2017, the group hopes to produce between 25% and 30% of its revenues from its APEA division – which covers Asia, New Zealand, Europe and the US. Westpac (ASX: WBC) and NAB (ASX: NAB) are also exploring growth opportunities in Asia, but both are predominantly focused on trade flows to and from Australia.

In regards to this, Smith said, “In Asia, we believe concerns about growth in China have been overdone. Although there is a rebalancing taking place in China and there may be volatility associated with this, we need to remember that the world’s second largest economy is still growing at around 7 to 7.5%.”

Whilst the profit recorded by ANZ for the period was impressive, the bank also managed to cut expenses by 0.5% and provision charge was down 2%. What was also pleasing to see was an increase of 12% for customer deposits and net lending assets were up 8%.

The group is anticipating that low interest rates, a weakening Australian dollar and the soon-to-be removed political uncertainty following the results of next month’s national elections will guide the bank to further gains in the short to medium terms, despite Australia’s weakening economic outlook.

Foolish takeaway

ANZ’s prospects in Asia make it the most attractive bank at today’s prices, however, it would be wise to wait for a much more attractive entry point before investing your hard-earned money. After 12 months of strong gains, none of the major banks present as attractive stocks to add to your portfolio.

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Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article.

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