March 19, 2020 / 2:53 PM / 21 days ago

South Africa's Capitec moves to calm nervous investors with profit forecast

JOHANNESBURG, March 19 (Reuters) - Capitec sought to calm investors on Thursday after its shares sustained heavier losses than other banks in South Africa, forecasting a full-year profit rise of up to 21%.

Some traders have said that Capitec could be more exposed to any economic downturn as a result of the coronavirus outbreak due to its business model being centred on riskier unsecured lending and targeted at lower-income consumers.

Capitec said that only 1.1 million of its 12.6 million active customers had credit with the bank, its income is diversified with transactional and insurance revenue and there had been an increase in its middle- and higher-income clients.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange saw its deepest-ever fall on Monday and Capitec said it believed falls in its shares, of 26% on Wednesday and more than 32% on Thursday, were due to the weakening of the rand, automatic selling triggered by algorithms and forced selling by some banks and other parties.

It pointed to a trading statement issued earlier in March that said headline earnings per share - the main profit measure in South Africa - would rise by up to 21%.

“This guidance remains unchanged and Capitec’s fundamental business remains strong,” it said in a statement.

Shares in Capitec rose after its announcement, but were still 17% lower at 1412 GMT. (Reporting by Emma Rumney; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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