Saudi British Bank (SABB), Saudi Arabia’s fourth-largest listed bank, said its fourth-quarter net profit rose 20 per cent over the same period of 2012, beating analyst expectations.
The lender, an affiliate of HSBC Holdings, said it made SAR976 million ($260 million) in the three months to Dec. 31, compared to SAR815 million in the corresponding period of 2012.
Eight analysts surveyed by Reuters had forecast it would earn a net profit of SAR924.5 million in the quarter.
SABB attributed its profit rise only to higher operating income, without elaborating.
Net profit for full-year 2013 advanced 16.5 per cent to SAR3.77 billion.
Saudi companies issue brief earnings statements early in the reporting period before publishing more detailed results later.
SABB’s loans portfolio climbed 10 per cent to SAR106 billion over the end of 2012, and deposits grew 15 per cent over the same timeframe to SAR139 billion.
SABB managing director David Dew told Reuters in an Oct. 1 interview the bank was finalising a three-year strategic plan based on an assumption that government spending will continue to grow and that Saudi bank lending levels to the private sector are sustainable in the mid teens for the next two-three years.
Saudi banks have benefited from rising lending, deposits and deal activity in an economy buoyed by years of high state spending which is backed by strong oil prices and record government surpluses.
The Kingdom’s budget for 2014, while the smallest increase for a decade at 4.3 per cent, is still another record amount, and bank lending to the private sector grew at 13.8 per cent year-on-year in November, up 0.3 per cent from the previous month’s 17-month low.
Total operating income for the quarter rose 12.6 per cent year-on-year to SAR5.82 billion, and profit from special commissions grew 13.9 per cent over the corresponding period of 2012 to SAR3.72 billion.
SABB said last month its board had recommended a cash dividend of SAR1 per share for 2013, up from SAR0.92 in 2012.