Access continues meteoric rise
Access Financial Services posted a 30 per cent jump in its net profit for the first three months of 2014.
The latest results largely reflect the continuation of a meteoric rise for the micro-financier, which has seen its pre-tax profit and market capitalisation multiply more than five times since the company listed on the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) Junior Market in 2009.
"The performance (in the first quarter of 2014) was driven by our aggressive marketing efforts and on the ground activities to get loans in our customers' hands," said Access' chief executive, Marcus James.
Indeed, the company has grown its loan portfolio substantially from the $340 million it had on its books before going public. At the end of March 2014, that figure stood at $1.12 billion.
Making just shy of $80 million net profit for the first quarter of 2014, compared to $62 million during the corresponding period last year, Access is well on its way to surpassing the $270 million earnings it posted for 2013.
"I don't like to give projections, but the outlook is positive for the rest of the year," said James. "We plan to be more efficient in disbursing our loans, we will improve the level of convenience for customers by processing loans faster than our competitors. We definitely plan to get more market shares as the sector is still relatively untapped."
The strong annual profit growth enabled the company to adjust its dividend payments upwards each year since 2010 -- Access paid out $263.5 million in dividends in 2013, up from $123 million the year before and $85 million in 2011 following the $13.7 million dividend payment made in 2010.
The micro-financier went back to the market last November, when it raised $100 million through a bond issue in order to boost loan growth. But it also has another $100 million to get from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) through the multilateral lending agency's project aimed at advancing financial institutions for micro entrepreneurs in Jamaica.
Access already received $9 million of the US$1 million ($110 million) IDB loan, along with technical assistance for the development of a suite of agricultural products to small farmers, which is to be launched by the end of 2014.
"We recognise that a significant portion of microentreprise in Jamaica is made up of farmers, many of whom have a difficulty accessing financing," said James. "So that's where we got motivation to develop products in the market so they can expand their output."
The company has also been expanding its branch network. With the most recent opening of stores in Black River and Junction in the parish of St Elizabeth, the micro-financier now has 15 locations, up from the six it had when went public.
Headquartered at 41b Half Way Tree Road, Access' principal activity is retail lending to the micro enterprise sector for personal and business purposes - funding is provided by financial institutions, government entities and non-governmental organisations.