Improved organic and trading gains helped Alpha Bank, the largest privately owned bank in the country, to post higher-than-expected third-quarter and nine-month results. The bank yesterday kicked off the earnings season for the sector by announcing a 125.7 percent quarter-on-quarter jump in consolidated net profits after tax and minorities in the third quarter to 63.2 million euros. Group net profits after tax and minorities in the first nine months of the year, however, fell by 45.3 percent to 114.3 million euros. «Overall, these are better-than-expected results due to a combination of organic and trading gains,» said Dimitris Nikolos, head of research at Kapa Securities. The third-quarter improvement came as trading revenues rose by 50 percent, commission revenues went up by 13 percent and net interest income increased by 6 percent. «Alpha took advantage of rising bond prices in the third quarter and investors’ flight to quality to book gains,» said Nikolos. The bank also benefited from a tighter curb on operating expenses, down by 6 percent in the third quarter. It said branch restructuring and redeployment of staff helped to bring down operating expenses. Results in the first nine months of the year suffered from the drought in trading activities and initial public offerings, leading to the 45.3 percent decline in consolidated net profits after tax and minorities. Mortgage and consumer loans showed an annualized increase of 126 percent and 43 percent respectively at the end of September, underlining Alpha’s aggressive drive into the two sectors. The bank said the gradual improvement in capital market revenues should have a positive impact on full-year results. Alpha’s shares were down by 0.17 percent yesterday.