Dividends are back, but is growth?
Published 23/02/2016 | 02:30
Asked to describe the mortgage market yesterday, chief executive Richie Boucher said he'd call it "normalising" rather than normalised. It's true of the bank too.
Shareholders now have the prospect of Bank of Ireland becoming a dividend stock, with payouts starting next year.
They're affordable because profits are up and bailout loans have finally been repaid.
But problems remain. Like all Irish lenders, it has a hefty stock of bad boom-era loans, a legacy that will still take years to shift. It's also struggling to replace older loans as they are paid off. New lending rose 40pc last year to €14bn, but total lending barely increased.
The best way for the bank to grow is by making home loans but its hemmed-in by the Central Bank mortgages restrictions and the linked lack of new building supply.
Last year's €1.4bn of Irish mortgage lending is likely to be matched rather than beaten in 2016.