RETAIL BANKING | Staff Reporter, Singapore

DBS and UOB poised to surprise in 2013

An earnings growth of 5.5% awaits.

According to OCBC Investment Research, with the cautious mood, most of the negatives have been priced into the stock prices of the local banks, and there is a strong likelihood that the banks could exceed expectations in 2013.

Here's more from OCBC:

We are going for average earnings growth of 5.5% in 2013 for both banks under our coverage, DBS and UOB, and the street is going for growth of only 3.3% (based on estimates from Bloomberg), effectively pricing in almost flat growth in 2013.

However, with the more optimistic Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) and improving economic numbers, there is a good likelihood of better earnings, especially in 2H 2013.

Overweight the sector – entering 2013 on firmer footing
Despite the still lingering issues from 2011-2012 carrying into 2013, especially the European debt situation and the slowdown in the US, we believe that the local banks are entering into 2013 on firmer footings and are well positioned to differentiate from the US or European banks, with earnings growth, albeit modest in 2013, as well as strong balance sheets.

The weakness in margin and slowing loans growth have already been discounted in both earnings projections for 2013 as well as in the current share prices. Asia remains the core base for the three banks, and there are still opportunities to cross-sell and leverage on their existing products and services, translating into better fee and other income. We expect corporate activities to also pick up in line with the more optimistic outlook.

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