APS Group has released its financial statement for the first quarter of 2021, showing a profit before tax of €3.8 million, a distinct increase on the €2 million it recorded in the same quarter of 2020.

While overall group pre-tax profit increased, APS Bank recorded a decline in profit before tax, from €5.2 million in Q1 2020 to €3.9 million in Q1 2021.

These figures reflect a significant increase in operating costs since the start of the pandemic for both the Group and the Bank from €7.9 million and €7.8 million in Q1 2020, to €10.3 million and €10.1 million in Q1 2021 for the Group and Bank respectively.

The divergence in the impact of this cost increase between the Bank and the Group is explained in that the Group’s operating income increase by €3 million, whereas the Bank’s did so by €0.7 million.

In comments accompanying the report, APS Bank CEO Marcel Cassar presents an optimistic outlook, saying: “We are confident that our business model will endure and overcome the current uncertainty”.

However, he does warn that “the extent of the rebound of key sectors such as tourism is going to be critical even for the short-to-medium term economic recovery”.

Reflecting on the quarter, the Group explains that “2021 largely continued from where 2020 left off, with the widespread COVID-19 economic disruption starting to make way for cautious optimism as the vaccination programme in many countries gathered momentum”.

“With Government continuing its direct intervention in favour of the sectors most affected by the pandemic, APS Bank remained committed to support its business and personal clients during this delicate period”, it continued.

Additionally, APS notes that “more retail customers are successfully exiting the moratoria period”.

The Group’s loan portfolio grew by 2.7 per cent during the first quarter of this year, to reach €1.85 billion, with households and mortgage financing being the main contributors.

Customer deposits also increased, by €96 million in Q1 2021, to represent €2.22 billion.        

Group profit after tax for the quarter was €2.4 million. At end-March, the Bank’s equity stood at €191.4 million.

Looking to the future, Mr Cassar says that as the bank experiences “a gradual pickup in business sentiment, [it will] maintain a prudent watch on credit underwriting and asset quality, mindful that pandemic-related developments will continue to shape the landscape for quite some time to come”.

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