Australia's fourth biggest bank, National Australia Bank (NAB), unveiled a record annual profit of US$5.43 billion Thursday, spurred by growth in its personal and business banking arms.
The full-year net result of Aus$5.22 billion for the 12 months to September 30 marked a massive 23.6 percent jump on the previous year, but the bank's head warned of economic uncertainty in Australia spawned by Europe's debt crisis.
"This is a good result which demonstrated that NAB has continued to strengthen its core banking business," the banking group's chief executive Cameron Clyne said.
Full-year cash earnings, an indicator that analysts follow closely, rose 19.2 percent to Aus$5.5 billion, an increase that Clyne said reflected the robustness of NAB's business and personal banking divisions.
The bank increased the value of its consumer loans by 19 percent to Aus$130.5 billion even though demand for loans was weak due to economic uncertainty, while the value of business loans rose to Aus$60.2 billion.
The bank's results were also boosted by a decrease in its bad debt charges as it recovered from the after-effects of the 2008 financial crisis.
But costs went up due to competition for retail deposits and a "continued" increase in wholesale funding costs, the bank chief said.
Europe's sovereign debt crisis, which is sending jitters through global markets as investors fear possible defaults, could raise risk premiums in the debt markets, Clyne said.
That could in turn affect Australian banks' cost of funding and ultimately, profitability.
"It's hard to predict, there are a lot of concerns about what's happening around the world, but we still do maintain that Australia is one of the strongest economies and has a lot of potential for upside. Which one outweighs the other, it's a little hard to say," he said.
NAB will pay a final dividend of Aus$0.88 dollars per share, taking its total dividend payout to Aus$1.72 for the year.
Its shares were unmoved from Wednesday's close of $24.95 due to a system-wide outage of the Australian Stock Exchange for technical reasons.