Saudi Banks Post Strong Q1 Profits, Beat Estimates

SABB saw first quarter net profit rise 11 per cent, while Saudi Hollandi’s net profit rose 19.4 per cent.

Saudi Hollandi Bank and Saudi British Bank (SABB) beat estimates for first-quarter net profit, with both lenders attributing the growth in earnings to higher operating income.

SABB, Saudi Arabia’s fourth-largest listed bank, said its first quarter net profit rose 11 per cent over last year to SAR948 million ($252.8 million) from SAR854 million, a bourse filing said on Tuesday.

This exceeded the average forecast of nine analysts polled by Reuters for a net profit of SAR847.3 million.

Meanwhile, Saudi Hollandi, the Kingdom’s eighth-largest listed bank, said its first quarter net profit rose 19.4 per cent over last year to SAR346.3 million the first three months of 2013, compared with net profit of SAR290 million in the first quarter of 2012, a separate filing said.

Five analysts surveyed by Reuters had forecast Saudi Hollandi to earn net profit of SAR315 million in the quarter.

Both banks attributed the profit increase to more operating income, which increased year-on-year by 16.4 and 8.1 per cent at SABB and Saudi Hollandi respectively.

Loan growth, which has been strong in Saudi Arabia on the back of successive years of expansionary government budgets, ample liquidity and improving corporate loan demand, was up 11 per cent year-on-year at SABB and 22.7 per cent at Saudi Hollandi.

Bank lending growth in Saudi Arabia dipped from December’s 46-month high of 16.4 per cent in the first two months of 2013, but it was still rapid at 15.9 per cent in January and 15.6 per cent in February.

Meanwhile, net special commission income in the first three months of 2013 was up 14.2 per cent on the same period last year at SABB, with Saudi Hollandi posting a 9.3 per cent increase.

Shares in SABB ended Tuesday up 1.5 per cent, with Saudi Hollandi’s stock advancing 2.1 per cent on the day, against a wider market increase of 0.4 per cent. The results announcement came after the market closed.