ECONOMY

National Bank net seen up 67 pct

National Bank of Greece SA is set today to report a 67 percent rise in full-year net profits, relying on strong retail lending and the consolidation of Turkish Finansbank, a Reuters poll of seven financial analysts showed yesterday. The average net profit forecast for Greece’s largest lender came to 1.65 billion euros, with forecasts ranging from -1.61 billion to -1.70 billion. Greek banks have been riding a wave of strong credit expansion at home with their operations in Southeast Europe increasingly feeding profit. Lack of exposure to subprime loans has spared them from the large writedowns seen from some European peers. NBG, present in Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania and Albania, acquired Turkey’s Finansbank in 2006 as part of its expansion strategy into Southeast Europe. It started consolidating Finansbank’s earnings in the fourth quarter of 2006. «Given that National Bank has the largest exposure outside Greece among Greek banks, the market’s focus will be on the profit contribution and prospects from Southeast Europe and Turkey,» said analyst Nick Lianeris at Proton Securities. Analysts expect net interest income to rise 42 percent to 3.04 billion euros. Mortgage lending is seen up 20 percent, with consumer credit expanding 16 percent. National Bank’s shares have shed about 23 percent since the start of the year, underperforming the Athens bourse’s general index which has lost 20 percent in the same period. The shares trade at about 10.6 times forecast 2007 earnings, in line with European peers, according to Reuters Estimates. (Reuters)