The Australia and New Zealand Banking GrpLtd (ASX: ANZ) share price was a strong performer again in March.
The banking giant’s shares climbed 7.7% over the period compared to a 1.8% gain by the ASX 200 index.
This meant that the ANZ share price recorded an impressive first quarter gain of 22%.
Why did the ANZ share price storm higher?
Investors have been buying ANZ’s shares since the release of its first quarter update in February.
That update revealed that for the three months ended 31 December, ANZ achieved an unaudited statutory profit after tax of $1,624 million. This was a 59% increase on the average profit it achieved during the final two quarters of FY 2020.
Unaudited cash earnings from continuing operations rose at a similarly strong rate of 54% to $1,810 million.
Also catching the eye of investors was news that ANZ has reversed some of its COVID-19 related provisions. For the quarter, ANZ’s provision result was a net release of $150 million. This comprises a collective provision release of $173 million, which was partially offset by an individually assessed provision charge of $23 million.
Also giving the ANZ share price a boost was a broker note out of Goldman Sachs at the start of the month.
According to the note, the broker upgraded its shares to a buy rating with a $29.00 price target.
Goldman Sachs explained the move: “We upgrade ANZ to Buy given: (i) still solid balance sheet momentum, (ii) its 1Q21 trading update highlighted it was well positioned for the current NIM environment,( iii) we think the update on its cost targets expected at its 1H21 result could provide a further catalyst for re-rating, and (iv) our revised A$29.01 TP offers 14% TSR [at the time] and the stock is trading at a 21% discount to peers (9% historic average).”
Positively, with the ANZ share price fetching $28.24 today, the gains may not be over just yet.
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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.