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Saudi Al-Rajhi Q4 profit up

Riyadh, January 17, 2010

Saudi-based Al-Rajhi Bank, the Gulf's biggest Islamic lender by market value, posted a lower-than-expected 3.2 percent rise in its fourth quarter net profit.

Al-Rajhi made 1.47 billion riyals ($392 million) in the three months to end-December compared to 1.42 billion riyals in the same period a year ago, the bank said in a statement.

It was Al-Rajhi's lowest quarterly net profit in the year and below analysts' expectations that ranged between 1.61 billion riyals and 1.96 billion riyals.

Several Saudi banks posted weaker fourth-quarter and annual earnings for 2009 due mainly to the global economic slowdown and provisions for loan losses after multi-billion dollar debt defaults last year by some family-owned firms which made banks more meticulous on lending.

Saudi banks more than tripled provisions against loan losses over the first nine months of 2009 to 6.04 billion riyals.

Al-Rajhi almost doubled its provisions to 1.3 billion riyals over the same period.

Net profit from lending -- which the Islamic lender calls net profit from financing and investment -- rose to 2.2 billion riyals during the fourth quarter. That was also the lowest since the start of 2009, but up 2.1 percent from a year earlier.
    Operating income rose 3 percent to 2.75 billion riyals.

Total loans reached 149 billion riyals by end-2009 up from 5.7 percent from end-2008 and 144.1 billion riyals by end-September, 2009 while deposits rose to 3.4 percent in 2009 to 121 billion riyals down from 123 billion riyals by end-September, 2009.   

Net profit from non-lending operations rose 7.7 percent in the fourth-quarter to 518 million riyals but was down by almost 16 percent from the third quarter of last year, based on Reuters calculations.

Net profit for all of 2009 was 6.77 billion riyals -- or 4.51 riyals per share -- up from 6.53 billion riyals in 2008 or 4.35 riyals per share. - Reuters




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