UPDATE 1-Equitable Group Q4 profit jumps 97 pct

Thu Feb 25, 2010 6:54am EST

* Q4 EPS C$0.96 vs C$0.53 year ago

* Net interest margin up to 2.4 pct

* Sees continued strength in net interest margin

Feb 25 (Reuters) - Canadian mortgage lender Equitable Group Inc's ETC.TO fourth-quarter profit nearly doubled, helped by an increase in net interest margin and a one-time income tax benefit.

For the quarter, the company earned C$15.6 million ($14.8 million), or 96 Canadian cents per share, compared with C$7.9 million, or 53 Canadian cents a share, a year ago.

Analysts on average were expecting the company to earn 79 Canadian cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net interest margin on a taxable equivalent basis rose to 2.4 percent from 1.5 percent a year ago.

Equitable, which added over C$167 million to its single-family portfolio in quarter, sees continued strength in net interest margin.

Shares of the Toronto-based company closed at C$20.66 Wednesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

($1=1.055 Canadian Dollar) (Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bangalore; Editing by Anne Pallivathuckal)