Alpha Bank, the country’s third-largest lender, reported a drop in 2009 earnings of almost a third and is preparing for a further deterioration in economic conditions this year. Alpha Bank said yesterday net profits last year dipped 31.7 percent on an annual basis to 349.8 million euros, with analysts expecting the figure to come in between 346 million and 402 million euros. Operating income, 22 percent of which comes from operations in Southeast Europe, rose 1.5 percent to 2.29 billion euros. However, impairment charges rose at a much faster pace, advancing 24.8 percent to 676.3 million euros. The bank said its asset quality may come under pressure this year due to the Greek government’s fiscal consolidation measures, after its nonperforming loan ratio increased by 50 basis points to 5.7 percent in the fourth quarter. «We have to manage efficiently the risk from the effects of the austerity measures on our customers’ ability to meet their loan repayment obligations,» said Demetrios Mantzounis, Alpha Bank’s CEO.