Saudi's biggest lender posts flat Q4 profit

Al Rajhi Bank reports small rise in fourth-quarter net profit, below forecasts

Al Rajhi Bank, Saudi Arabia's largest listed lender, posted a small rise in fourth-quarter net profit on Wednesday, coming in slightly below the average forecast of analysts.

The bank made SR1.91bn ($509m) in the three months ended December, compared with SR1.90bn in the same period the year earlier, the bank said in a bourse filing, equivalent to a 0.6 percent rise year-on-year.

Analysts surveyed by Reuters expected the bank to post SR1.96bn for the fourth quarter.

Al Rajhi attributed the rise in quarterly profit to higher operating income, which rose 5 percent on the same three-month period of 2011 to SR3.49bn.

Full-year profit for 2012 was recorded as SR7.89bn, a 7 percent increase on 2011's SR7.38bn.

Total lending at the end of 2012 stood at SR172bn, a 23 percent jump on the same point of 2011, while deposits rose 24 percent over the same timeframe to SR221bn.

Saudi banks have enjoyed successive years of expansionary government budgets, ample liquidity and improving corporate loan demand.

In a separate bourse statement, Al Rajhi said it would pay a cash dividend of 2 riyals per share for the second half of 2012, which represents 20 percent of a share's nominal value.

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