Saturday, August 24, 2013

Yellow metal price rise revives fortunes for gold loan NBFCs
~By Sangeetha G.    Aug 21 2013 , Chennai
Less aggressive push from banks, duty hikes assisting growth
After a year of uncertainties post the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) restrictions, gold loan companies have started showing signs of revival in one way or other. Lesser aggression from banks and rebounding gold prices are bringing back customers to gold loan companies. The recent import duty hikes also have been beneficial for gold loan business.

Since the beginning of last financial year, the key indices, including net profit, assets under management, operating income and quarterly disbursement of Manappuram Finance have been on a downward trail. The RBI cap on loan-to-value (LTV) had hit the company, which has been lending at higher LTV.

Muthoot Finance still managed to grow, though slower, after the RBI restrictions, as it has been lending at a relatively lower LTV. However, the gold holdings of the company have been shrinking. But the gold price fall in April hit the company’s performance — dragging down its net profit, gross income and asset under management (AUM) in the last quarter.
“Around Rs 600 crore worth of gold was auctioned last quarter. Owing to the subdued gold prices, the realisation on the auctioned gold was lower than the implied interest rate. Further, we had started a drive in which rebates on the interest rate were given for regular repayment of the interest part. This brought down the portfolio yield,” said K P Padmakumar, executive director, Muthoot Finance.

However, things are getting back to track for gold loan companies as the prices have started rebounding and the customers too have started coming back. In Q1 FY14, Muthoot’s loan accounts stood at 65 lakh against 59 lakh in the same quarter last year. The company expects 5 per cent quarter-on-quarter growth in loan accounts in the coming quarters. Manappuram was able to arrest the decline in loan accounts at 15.2 lakh last quarter.

“We are seeing more customers these days as acquisition of new customers is now a focus area for us. The focus is on new customer acquisition and regular collection of interest, which will have a direct bearing on the business parameters,” said I Unnikrishnan, executive director and CEO of Manappuram Finance.

Manappuram’s net profit has bottomed out in the last quarter at Rs 52 crore after having registered a net loss of Rs 141 crore in the March quarter.

In the June quarter of 2013-14, the gold holdings of Muthoot Finance have returned to the March 2012 quarter level. Holdings have been shrinking since March 2012 quarter. The company hopes that this will reflect in the AUM as the gold prices have started rebounding.

“The gold price decline have also made our competitors like the banks less aggressive in the gold loan business. They have also lowered their LTV rates, providing us a level-playing field,” said Padmakumar.

“Though there is no LTV cap for us, we are lending at a higher LTV since the decline in gold prices. Caution is very much there. In the southern markets, gold loan business does not need any marketing as the awareness levels are high. In the north, we are going slow with marketing,” said Indira Padmini, general manager — retail and marketing, Indian Overseas Bank.

The gold import duty hikes also present an opportunity for the gold loan companies. “There’s no denying that when gold prices increase, there is a positive effect on the eligible loan amount (which automatically goes up). This being the case, when import duties are hiked or when other supply restrictions push up the price of gold, the gold loan industry actually stands to gain,” said Unnikrishnan.