Jamaica pulled US$3.44B in remittances in 2023

Remittance inflows to Jamaica, ended in 2023 at US$3.37 billion, down two percent compared to total inflows of US$3.44 billion in 2022, and representing the third consecutive year that remittances exceed $3 billion and the fourth since it has come close to $3 billion, in 2020 in hitting a then record high of US$2.9 billion, well above the previous high of US$2.4 billion in 2019.
Remittance inflows for December 2023 declined by 3.6 percent to US$314 million, compared with US$326 million in December 2022. The data was compiled from data released by Bank of Jamaica

Jamaica’s NIR slips in January but

Jamaica’s Net International Reserves (NIR) fell by US$79 million in January this year to US$4.679 billion from US$4.758 billion at the end of 2023 and is up US$703 million above US$3.976 billion at the end of 2022, but data indicates the country in a far better foreign exchange position than the previous two years.
The Bank of Jamaica NIR report, states that the reserves represent 23.6 weeks of Estimated Gross Official Reserves in weeks of Goods & Services Imports, down from 25.2 weeks in December 2022.
The decline follows the sale of $30 million to the market through the B-FXITT intervention on January 15th, $20 million on January 16th, $30 million on January 25 and US$20 million on January 26 totalling US$100 million and exceeding the reduction in the NIR in January, but the intervention seems to be on the decline since 2021. In January last year, the central bank intervened 5 times with sales of US$140 million and in January 2021 they pumped US$185.68 million into the system on six occasions.

Jamaica’s remittances exceed US$3B in 2023

Jamaica had total remittance Inflows of US$268 million in November last year, down 3.4 percent from US$277 million in November 2022, Jamaica’s central bank data show.  
For the 11 months to November 2023, remittance inflows to the country amounted to US$3.064 billion, a decline of 1.6 percent compared to 2022 for the same period. The decline is just US$50 million short of the US$3.114 billion for the same period in 2022. The full 2023 outcome could fall short of US$3.4 billion based on the trend for the year to date and would be down on the US$3.44 billion that obtained in 2022.


Jamaica’s NIR jumps US$151M to record high

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Jamaica’s net international reserves jumped US$150.6 million in December to end 2023 at a record US$4.75 billion, with the report indicating that the amount represents 34.8 weeks of imports, data released by Bank Jamaica is shows.  
For the calendar year the NIR increased by US$770 million in 2023, that compares with a slight US$21 million fall in 2022 from 2021.

Why Scotia Group should be on your buy list

Scotia Group recently reported record profits for the year to October, surging 67 percent to $17.23 billion with earnings of $5.54 per share, from revenues that jumped 29 percent to $59.64 billion but based on the reaction of investors the results seem to hardly matter with the stock valued a mere 6.5 times historical earnings compared with a market average of 13, nevertheless, the price hit a yearly high of $36.69 this past Friday as selling has eased considerably, with a few open offers to sell.
The group declared a dividend payable in January of 40 cents for a second consecutive quarter putting it at $1.60 annualised, for a 4.6 percent yield based on the current price. Traditionally the group was committed to paying 40 to 50 percent of profits, this seems to have temporarily changed with the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic but could return in the near future.
The October quarter saw profit popping a robust 49 percent to $4.4 billion from $2.98 billion in 2022 with revenues rising 24 percent to $15.79 billion from 12.8 billion.
The good news does not end there. ICinsider.com is forecasting earnings of $7.50 for the 2024 fiscal year, with the PE ratio at just 4.8 times earnings making it a stunning buy at the current price of $36, the stock closed at on Friday. The group has many of the qualities for an excellent investment, good management, quality products and services that are in demand, a growing business and increasing profitability and best of all the stock price is well below the market average, with the potential for a major rise in the near term.
While the 2023 performance looks dramatic compared with the pre-Covid period it is more one of recovery as opposed to rapid growth as the increase over 2019 is just 31 percent, representing a 6 percent increase per annum as loans grew 31 percent as well since the end of 2019.
Highlights of the good performance came from interest income, with the quarter jumping 22 percent to $11.6 billion from $9.5 billion in 2022 and by 31 percent for the full year to $40.8 billion with loans disbursed growing a robust 15 percent to $269 billion from $234.7 billion in 2022, after loan loss provisions. Non-accrual loans stood at $4.5 billion compared to $4 billion at the end of October 2022 and represent 1.6 percent of gross loans compared to October 2022 at 1.7 percent.
Also contributing to the growth in interest income was an increase in funds held in cash resources and investments of $343 billion up from $316 billion in 2022.
Insurance revenues fell 5 percent from $1 billion to $961 million in the quarter and surged 49 percent from $1.87 billion to $2.79 billion for the year.

Audrey Tugwell Henry Scotia group’s CEO

Deposits grew 12.7 percent from $399 billion to $449 billion, but the cost of funds grew 138 percent from $580 million in 2022 to $1.38 billion and 207 percent from $152 million in the final quarter to $466 million as interest rates rose sharply following Bank of Jamaica’s increase in the overnight rate in during late 2021 into 2022 and the maintenance of tight liquidity in the system by the country’s central bank.
Amounts set aside for expected credit losses fell 16 percent to $741 million in the quarter from the 2022 quarter’s $880 million and from $3.06 billion for the year in 2022 to $2.4 billion in 2023.
Other Income delivered $3.23 billion in the final quarter of the year versus $2.26 billion in 2022 and for the 2023 year ending October an increase of 22 percent to $16 billion from $13 billion in 2022, with foreign exchange trading and fees and commission dominating.
Operating expenses rose 6 percent in the final quarter to $6.8 billion from $6.39 billion in 2022 and for the twelve months to $27.6 billion up 11.7 percent from $24.7 billion.
The group’s Shareholders’ equity ended the fiscal year at $126.5 billion, increasing by $20 billion, compared to the previous fiscal year, due primarily to re-measurement of defined benefit pension plan assets, lower fair value losses on the investment portfolio, recognition of the insurance finance reserve on the adoption of IFRS 17 and profit generated for the year, partially offset by dividends paid. Total assets grew by $70 billion to $665 billion at October 2023.
ICInsider.com rates the stock a strong buy, with the potential to deliver attractive dividend yields going forward and a huge increase in the stock price in the months ahead. The future appears bright with continued growth in the local economy that sets the stage for more lending. 2024 could well deliver some negatives as the Bank of Jamaica holds interest rates at excessively high levels and ushers in a recession. Additionally, interest rates could start to decline and negatively affect net interest income. Regardless the stock is priced so low currently that most bad news to come if any is more than taken into consideration by the current pricing.

Soft remittance flows to end at $3.4B in 2023

Remittance inflows into Jamaica fell 1.9 percent in September to U.S$284.4 million and 1.2 percent for the year to date to just under $2.53 billion, this marks the 6th month of decline in remittances for the year to date, data from jamaica’s central bank shows.
With three months to go before the end of 2023, the market seems on track to be close to this US$3.44 billion of total inflows in 2022, with the absolute shortfall in remittances to date of just US$31 million adrift of the 2022 intake to September. The 1.9 percent fall in September is far less than the 5.9 percent decline that occurred in August and a 5.8 percent fall in April.

Cooling inflation demands lower interest rates

Inflation cooled considerably over the past year in Jamaica, to 5.1 percent to October 2023, data just released by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) shows. The rate is down from 5.9 percent for the period this year to September 2023, and down from 9.9 percent for the October 2022 period.
Statin also stated that inflation for October came in at points 0.8 percent, sharply down from the same period last year at 1.5 percent. October’s inflation is worse than the 0.5 percent that occurred in September this year. But spike in oil prices would have played a big role in October inflation. The fall in oil price to the low $70 levels currently, is signalling that inflation in November is likely going to be moderate with the year to date inflation then heading for the low 4 percent range.
According to the report, inflation in October was driven primarily by the upward movement in the division of ‘Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels’. The increase in the division’s index was mainly attributed to higher rates for electricity, water and sewage. In addition, ‘Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages’ also contributed to the increase.
Point to point inflation is now well within the Bank of Jamaica’s mandated target range of 4-6 percent, but the fiscal year numbers which are the basis for their target could be much higher than the figure above. Regardless the central bank runs the risk of driving the economy into recession if they are not careful and move to ease interest rates fast.
Recent data from a large number of listed companies show sluggish revenues growth and lower profit for the September quarter compared with 2022 as well as the first half of 2023, added to this, tourist arrivals slowed considerably in recent months compared to the earlier part of the year and that industry has been the major driver of economic activity this year and added to that the construction sector has been in decline and could worsen.

Worst fall for remittances

Remittance inflows to Jamaica in August slipped by 5.9 percent or US$18 million, the worst monthly decline for 2023, with total inflows of US$289, down from US$307 in August 2022, data out of the Bank of Jamaica show. The decline beats the 5.8 percent decline in April, with a slippage then of US$17 million.
So far, January, March and May are the only months with positive inflows compared with 2022.
In a year of primarily monthly declines, inflows are down by 1.1 percent or US$26 million to US$2.24 billion to August from US$2.267 million for the first eight months last year and now seem likely to come in just below the US$3.44 billion total inflows for 2022.

Remittances to Jamaica slip

Jamaica’s Central Bank in downtown Kingston

Remittance inflows to Jamaica in July 2023 amount to US$303 million and represent a decline of 0.09 percent or US$2.7 million in comparison to July 2022 and is the 4th month of decline for the year to date, according to data released by the country’s Central Bank.
For the January to July 2023 period, remittance inflows to Jamaica amount to US$1,952 million, representing a decline of 0.4 percent compared to January to July 2022 when US$1,959 came into the country. Notwithstanding the decline for the year to date, the country is on track to match total inflows in 2022 of US$3.44 billion barring any major negative developments.

Remittances tracking 2022 inflows

Remittance inflows to Jamaica for the first half of 2023 are marginally behind intakes for 2022 with $1.64 billion being taken in, 0.3 percent less than for the same period in 2022, with June slipping 0.7 percent to $286 million below the $288 million collected for June last year.
The data for the half year suggests that the total of US$3.44 billion collected in 2022 is likely to be within reach this year if the current trend continues. In 2019 gross remittance inflows were $2.4 billion, which is a billion dollars less than was collected in 2022.
According to the Bank of Jamaica, the entity that compiles the data, remittances from the USA account for 69.8 percent of total flows, down from 70.7 percent in June 2022. Other source countries with a notable share are Canada at 10.5 percent, followed by the UK and the Cayman Islands at 10.0 percent and 5.8 percent, respectively.

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