Saudi Arabia’s National Commercial Bank (NCB) reported a 7.5% rise in fourth-quarter net profit yesterday as the kingdom’s largest lender was boosted by higher income from commission and investments.
The results are the strongest in four quarters for the bank, which like other lenders in the kingdom has seen its performance clipped by weaker activity as depressed oil prices drag economic growth to its lowest level in more than three years.
The bank made a net profit of 2.29bn riyals ($611mn) in the three months to December 31, up from 2.13bn riyals in the same period of 2015, it said in a bourse statement. Analysts at Alistithmar Capital and SICO Capital had given forecasts for NCB’s fourth-quarter net profit of 2.0bn riyals and 2.09bn riyals respectively.
Saudi companies issue brief earnings statements early in the reporting period before publishing more detailed results later.
Deposits at the bank, which has perhaps the closest links to the government, slipped 2.6% year on year to 315.6bn riyals at the end of December, continuing the decline in levels seen in the first nine months of 2016.
The hefty deposits Saudi banks have been able to build up in recent years have diminished more recently as the government draws down cash parked with banks to help plug its budget deficit.
Loans and advances at the end of December stood at 253.6bn riyals, up 0.3% on a year earlier.
The bank said total operating income rose by 3.6% during the quarter as a result of higher net special income, income from investments and gains on non-trading investments.
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