Saudi’s Samba Q4 profit up 15.8 percent, slightly under estimates

Analysts surveyed by Reuters had forecasted the bank would post a quarterly net profit of $287m on average

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Samba Financial Group, Saudi Arabia’s second-largest listed bank by assets, said its fourth-quarter net profit rose 15.8 percent year-on-year, coming in slightly below analysts' expectations.

The bank said in a bourse filing on Wednesday that it made 1.01 billion riyals ($269 million) in the three months to Dec. 31, compared to $231m in the same period of 2012.

Nine analysts surveyed by Reuters had forecast it would, on average, post a net profit for the quarter of $287m.

Samba attributed the profit rise to an increase in operating income, which advanced 9.9 percent year-on-year to $426m; it did not elaborate.

Saudi firms issue brief earnings statements early in the reporting period before publishing more detailed results later.

The quarterly results pushed up full-year 2013 earnings after three flat quarters, with net profit advancing 4.1 percent on the previous year to $1.2bn.

Saudi Arabian banks are benefiting from a positive economic climate, as years of high oil prices and government surpluses have pushed state spending to record levels - the kingdom’s budget for 2014, while the smallest increase for a decade, is still another record amount.

Samba’s loans portfolio climbed 10.6 percent year-on-year to $30.2bn at the end of 2013. Deposits grew 6.5 percent to $42bn.

The bank said late last month that its board had recommended a cash dividend of $0.22 per share for the second half of 2013, in line with the dividend for the corresponding period of 2012.