BNP seen doubling profit on lighter euro zone bill

Tue Nov 6, 2012 6:01pm EST

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By Lionel Laurent

PARIS, Nov 7 (Reuters) - BNP Paribas is expected to post a doubling of third-quarter profit on Wednesday, thanks to a lighter bill from the euro zone crisis and a rebound in fixed-income trading after moves by central banks to spur growth.

France's biggest bank was also expected to say its closely watched core capital ratio exceeded 9 percent under tougher Basel III rules, putting it well ahead of domestic rivals and many European peers.

While BNP has bolstered its financial strength by cutting exposure to euro zone trouble spots like Greece and Italy over the past year, its loan book is still heavily tied to the French and Italian markets, and investors will be watching for any further impact from the economic slowdown.

Chief executive Jean-Laurent Bonnafe may also shed more light on BNP's strategy, which could see acquisitions or tactical cutbacks as the French government eyes a crackdown on risky trading and rivals like UBS exit entire business lines.

The bank's quarterly net profit is seen rising to 1.18 billion euros ($1.51 billion), more than twice its profit of 541 million for the same period a year ago, according to the mean estimate in a Reuters poll of 10 analysts.

The bank is, however, seen posting a 7.1 percent fall in revenue to 9.31 billion euros, according to the poll.

BNP's earnings for the third quarter of 2011 were badly hit by losses on Greek sovereign debt as global banks agreed to take write-downs on their exposure to the recession-hit country.

Bright spots are likely to include bond and currency trading, which has seen a strong rebound at rivals including Deutsche Bank and Citigroup after the European Central Bank's (ECB) pledge to support the euro zone.

Retail banking, a traditional cash cow for French banks thanks to strong levels of domestic household savings, is expected to show signs of further stagnation, meanwhile, as consumers cut back and the overheated housing market corrects.

BNP shares have gained 27.3 percent year-to-date, giving it a market capitalisation of 62.2 billion euros. This is more than the STOXX Europe 600 banks index, up 17.9 percent, though less than rivals Societe Generale and Credit Agricole, perceived as riskier. ($1 = 0.7823 euros) (Editing by Patrick Graham)

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