NBG first-half net income jumps on lending growth and cost cuts

National Bank, Greece’s largest lender, yesterday reported a better-than-expected 62.3 percent jump in first-half group net profit, boosted by growing retail lending and cost curbs. National Bank said group net earnings after minorities rose to 330 million euros ($396 million). Analysts were forecasting National’s first-half net profit would come in between 268 to 294 million euros. Earnings per share (EPS) rose to 1.0 euro from 0.61 euros in the year earlier period. «The very substantial growth in profit reflects the sustained effort that has gone into building up our core revenue sources and systematic efforts to contain operating costs,» Chairman and Chief Executive Takis Arapoglou said in a statement. The bank said net interest income in the first six months of the year grew 15.3 percent to 802.7 million euros, boosted by expanding retail loans in Greece and southeastern Europe. Net interest margin improved by 38 basis points to 3.38 percent. Group retail loan balances were up 26 percent year-on-year to 16.5 billion euros at the end of the first half. National’s total loan book reached 29.6 billion euros, up 18 percent. Retail credit continued to be the main driver of loan growth with mortgages showing the best performance, a rise of 27 percent to 10.2 billion euros. National said it expects the improving trend in its net interest margin to continue on the back of growth in higher-yielding loans, which make up an increasing share of group assets. The bank’s strong profitability in the first half boosted return on equity (ROE) by 10 percentage points to 28 percent. (Reuters)