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Banks Log 12.2% Growth in FY23, Gross Bad Loans Down for 5th Year

Analysis of 12.2% Credit Growth for Indian Banks in FY23 and Implications

Banks Log 12.2% Growth in FY23, Gross Bad Loans Down for 5th Year

Source and Citation

ET Bureau. “Banks Log 12.2% Growth in FY23, Gross Bad Loans Down for 5th Year.” Economic Times. 28 December 2022.

Analysis of the News for Layman

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has released its annual report on the performance of the Indian banking sector. This report covers the financial year 2022-23 (FY23), which ends in March 2023.

Bank Credit Growth

As per the report, the overall bank credit has grown by 12.2% year-on-year. This growth has been primarily driven by loans to individuals and the services sector. Personal loans, including retail, housing, vehicle loans, and microfinance, have played a significant role in this growth. On the corporate side, credit demand has come from various sectors, including IT services, non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), green energy, chemicals, and infrastructure players.

Improved Financial Health

The report also highlights the ongoing efforts to clean up the balance sheets of banks. This has led to increased profitability due to higher net interest margins, improved asset quality (lower bad loans), and lower credit provisions. The percentage of gross non-performing assets (NPAs) relative to total bank advances has reached a ten-year low of 3.2%. Additionally, banks have maintained robust capital positions, with a capital adequacy ratio of 16.8%, well above the regulatory minimum of 10-12%.

Recovery of Banks

This improvement indicates a strong recovery by public sector banks (e.g., SBI, PNB), private banks (e.g., HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank), and foreign banks after facing high bad loans (NPAs), capital erosion, and poor profitability following the 2018 IL&FS crisis. However, the RBI has advised banks to focus on improving customer service quality through effective use of technology, rather than solely pursuing process efficiency or profit metrics.

Impact on Retail Investors

For retail investors, the 12.2% loan growth in the banking sector signifies a stable expansion based on lower-risk retail assets, rather than volatile corporate loans. The robust 16.8% capital buffers also provide protection against future uncertainties.

As economic expansion continues and consumer loan demand rises, private sector banks like HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, and Axis Bank are well-positioned to benefit from this growth. Their focus on digitization for enhanced customer convenience may also attract millennial borrowers. Investors can consider evaluating specific private bank stocks for long-term wealth creation.

Among PSU (public sector) banks, SBI, with its leadership, extensive reach, and digital investments, offers stability with growth potential. However, outcomes are still tied to the overall economic situation, so some caution is advised. Investors should create customized portfolio allocations that align with their individual risk appetites and return expectations.

Overall, India’s banking sector is on a path of recovery and seems poised for sustainable growth driven by factors like financial inclusion, a growing middle class, and investments in technology infrastructure.

Impact on Industries

Several industries stand to benefit from the banking sector’s 12.2% credit growth in FY23:

NBFCs

Strong bank lending supports NBFCs and microfinance companies in raising funds for last-mile retail credit growth. This benefits companies like Bajaj Finance and LIC Housing Finance, enabling them to tap into rising consumer demand.

Fintech

Digital payments and lending platforms such as Paytm, PhonePe, and LendingKart witness increased consumer traction, aided by partnerships with banks.

Real Estate

Retail housing demand benefits from expanding home loans, reviving stalled projects as developer access to loans improves through last-mile bank funding.

MSMEs

Small enterprises across various sectors, especially those involved in supply chains and exports, utilize greater working capital funding to enhance their output.

However, the significant growth in retail loans has led the RBI to introduce macroprudential norms on personal loans to balance risk considerations. This may slightly moderate the availability of credit from banks for certain unsecured loans.

Long-Term Benefits and Negatives

Over a 5-10 year horizon, India’s banking industry appears poised for robust growth due to economic expansion, rising incomes, and greater penetration of financial services. Factors such as increased insuralization, a vibrant digital ecosystem, and reforms like UPI have promoted bank account adoption, allowing lenders to tap into mass market opportunities.

With balance sheet repairs largely completed after the NPA clean-up drive, banks can now focus on business growth and operational excellence. Their solvency and loss resilience position them to better support India’s aspirations through financial intermediation. The consolidation of PSU banks into larger entities also enables efficiency on a larger scale.

However, competition in the industry remains high, necessitating continuous investments in technology, analytics, and talent to better serve customers and develop innovative services and products. While fiscal spending has supported the recovery of public capital expenditure, the medium-term growth outlook is tied to sustaining the uptick in private corporate investment. Any slowdown in this regard could moderate credit momentum.

Short-Term Benefits and Negatives

The outlook for the banking industry over the next 1-2 years appears positive in terms of continued loan growth at levels of 11-13%. This growth is driven by strong demand from the middle class, including housing credit, and potential acceleration in corporate loan growth due to government capital expenditure and incentives like PLI schemes.

HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, and SBI, owing to their strong liability franchises and digital offerings, seem well-positioned to capitalize on growth opportunities. However, small finance banks and niche players require careful evaluation by investors due to potential polarization in the industry.

Wholesale loan growth remains risk-prone, so monitoring working capital funding and early warning signals for traders’ advances is essential. Macroeconomic vulnerabilities in the face of global recession risks could quickly shift industry optimism. The improvement in the real estate sector remains tentative, except for prominent developers, warranting cautious assessments at both the individual counter and sectoral levels.

Potential Impact of Indian Banks’ Growth and Improved Asset Quality

Indian Companies that may Gain

Large Public Sector Banks (PSBs)

Historically struggling with bad loans, PSBs like SBI, Bank of Baroda, and PNB could experience improved market sentiment and potentially higher valuations due to continued improvements in asset quality and profitability.

Private Sector Banks

Private sector banks such as HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, and Kotak Mahindra Bank benefit from robust credit growth, especially in retail and services sectors. Higher interest rates also enhance their net interest margins and profitability.

Housing Finance Companies (HFCs)

With strong retail loan growth, housing finance companies like HDFC Ltd. and LIC Housing Finance are likely to see increased demand for home loans and improved financial performance.

Consumer Durable Companies

Companies like Bajaj Finance and TVS Credit could benefit from increased lending for consumer durables driven by retail loan growth.

Financial Technology (FinTech) Companies

Companies like Paytm and Policybazaar, facilitating online loan applications and financial services, could benefit from increased credit activity and digital banking adoption.

Market Sentiment

PSBs, private banks, and HFCs might experience positive sentiment due to improved financial performance and growth prospects. Consumer durable companies and FinTech companies could also see positive sentiment driven by increased loan demand and digital adoption.

Indian Companies that may Lose

Microfinance Institutions (MFIs)

Increased focus on secured retail loans from banks could put pressure on MFIs serving the unbanked and low-income segments.

Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs)

Regulatory scrutiny and potential capital requirements on specific NBFC lending could impact their growth and profitability.

Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs)

While banks prioritize retail loans, access to credit for SMEs might remain limited, potentially impacting their growth.

Market Sentiment

MFIs, some NBFCs, and SME-focused lenders might experience negative sentiment due to competitive pressures and potential regulatory limitations.

Global Companies that may Gain

International Investment Banks

Increased financial activity in India could attract greater participation from global investment banks in underwriting, advisory services, and asset management.

Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs)

Improved financial health and growth prospects of Indian banks could attract increased foreign investments into the banking sector.

Market Sentiment

Global investment banks and FIIs might see positive sentiment due to increased opportunities in the Indian banking sector.

Global Companies that may Lose

Global NBFCs

With increased focus on domestic NBFC regulation, foreign NBFCs operating in India might face stricter compliance and potentially limited growth opportunities.

Market Sentiment

Global NBFCs operating in India might experience negative sentiment due to regulatory uncertainty and potential limitations.

Note: This analysis is based on limited information and should not be considered financial advice. Market sentiment is complex and depends on various factors beyond the information provided. Please conduct your own research and consult with a financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

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