National Bank group profits beat forecasts

The National Bank of Greece group reported better-than-expected third-quarter results yesterday despite the tough financial circumstances. Greece’s biggest lender saw its three-quarter net earnings come to 259 million euros, compared to a forecast of 244 million by Reuters. The figure showed a 74 percent decline from last year, but this is mostly due to the extraordinary levy on companies that made a profit, as well as the losses from its portfolio of state bonds and high provisions for nonperforming loans. A crucial factor for the group’s better earnings report was activity abroad, spearheaded by National’s subsidiary in Turkey, Finansbank. Its net profits in the first nine months of the year came to 369 million euros, posting an increase of 4 percent over the same period last year. In a statement released with the results, National suggested that unlike its operations abroad, the picture in Greece was negative, as the bank was showing losses of 181 million euros in the January-September period, compared to profits of 593 million euros in the same period in 2009. This is attributed to losses of 338 million euros from the bonds portfolio, while provisions amounted to 725 million euros. Nevertheless, group officials stressed an increase in operating revenues by 3 percent (to 2.1 billion euros) despite the deterioration in financial conditions. The group’s nonperforming loans came to 7.1 percent of all loans, while their total amount accounts for 8.1 percent. At the group level there were provisions for 991 million euros, of which 343 million concerned the third quarter. Financial activity may be shrinking in Greece, but National’s loan portfolio expanded by 1.3 billion euros or 3 percent, reaching 50.8 billion euros. «Despite the particularly negative conjunction in Greece, the NBG group remained profit-making in the first nine months of a very difficult year, maintaining a high capital adequacy while strengthening its financial report with increased provisions,» stated the group’s CEO Apostolos Tamvakakis yesterday. He stressed the successful completion of the group’s share capital increase, «which doubtlessly is a vote of confidence from the broader investment community for the group,» he added.