Piraeus Bank has best-ever 9-month result, rises 34 pct

Piraeus Bank, Greece’s fifth-largest lender, reported a 34.1 percent jump in nine-month group net profit yesterday, in line with market forecasts, on continuing growth in lucrative loans to retail customers. Group net profit after minorities came in at 109.3 million euros ($138 million) versus an average forecast of a 36 percent rise to 110.5 million euros in a recent Reuters poll of analysts. The bank said it was its best-ever nine-month performance as net revenues grew twice as fast as operating expenses, up 15.4 versus 8.8 percent. Piraeus, which reported under Greek accounting standards, said net interest income grew 17.9 percent to 330.8 million euros with its net interest margin improving to 3.14 from 2.76 percent. Home and consumer loans grew 20.4 percent year-on-year in the first three quarters, making up 29 percent of its total loan portfolio. Net commission income also rose by 20.4 percent, to 95.7 million euros. Strong lending growth meant loans now make up 75.1 percent of the group’s assets versus 66 percent in the same period last year. Its bond portfolio shrank to 8.9 percent of total assets from 15.6 percent in 2003. Non-performing loans made up 2.57 percent of the loan portfolio, and were 83 percent covered by loan loss provisions, without including ETBA Bank, which was absorbed last year.