Virgin Cash: actuality cheques | Monetary Occasions


Vaccine breakthroughs imply sooner financial restoration and, in flip, higher earnings for lenders. Shares in Virgin Cash, the UK’s greatest small financial institution, have jumped 40 per cent since. Straight-talking chief govt David Duffy gave traders a dose of actuality at outcomes on Wednesday: advantages will take time to materialise and Brexit disruption is looming.

A cautious outlook from the UK’s sixth-largest lender was accompanied by hefty provisions and decrease earnings. Income earlier than tax of £124m for the yr to September had been £20m lower than analysts had been anticipating. That’s unlikely to damp investor spirits for lengthy. Virgin Cash has benefited from higher mortgage pricing, which is prone to proceed subsequent yr.

A surge in buyer deposits is one consequence of lockdowns. Spending alternatives, notably on journey and leisure, have been scarce for Britons who nonetheless have jobs. Money in low-cost “relationship” accounts at Virgin Cash grew by a fifth within the yr to September to £25.7bn. Shrewd use of the Virgin model is supporting the method. Free bottles of Virgin wine incentivise current-account switching. 

Decrease reliance on costly wholesale funding is a technique the financial institution hopes to get nearer to focused double-digit returns on tangible fairness. Value-cutting and tweaks to threat weights are the opposite two. Consensus forecasts counsel Virgin Cash might hit that concentrate on as early as 2023.

Decrease funding prices ought to help internet curiosity margins — the distinction between what Virgin earns on loans and pays on deposits — subsequent yr. These fell 10 foundation factors to 1.56 per cent within the yr to September, because of crisis-induced price cuts by the Financial institution of England. 

Margin positive aspects would assist get the financial institution nearer to returning capital to shareholders, as soon as regulators give the go-ahead for all banks to renew payouts. Analysts are forecasting a token dividend subsequent yr. Shares buying and selling at 0.6 occasions e book worth — a premium to the UK market — trace that the market thinks Virgin Cash can surpass that.

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