Israel's Mizrahi-Tefahot Bank Q4 profit falls

TEL AVIV, March 18 Mon Mar 18, 2013 3:57am EDT

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TEL AVIV, March 18 (Reuters) - Mizrahi-Tefahot Bank , Israel's fourth-largest lender, reported a 10 percent drop in quarterly profit, weighed down by lower financing income and higher operating expenses and taxes.

Mizrahi-Tefahot, the first of Israel's top banks to report quarterly earnings, on Monday posted fourth-quarter net profit of 270 million shekels ($73 million), compared with 299 million a year earlier.

Analysts on average forecast Mizrahi would earn 273 million shekels in the quarter, according to a Reuters poll.

Its charge for credit losses fell to 48 million shekels from 62 million. Financing income before credit losses fell 12.4 percent to 643 million shekels.

Operating expenses rose to 740 million shekels from 689 while tax provisions jumped to 176 million shekels from 93 million. Mizrahi said it had a one-time reduction of 45 million shekels in tax expenses in the 2011 quarter and without this, net profit would have increased 6.3 percent.

Mizrahi-Tefahot is Israel's largest mortgage lender with an average market share of 34 percent.

Its ratio of Tier I capital to risk elements rose to 8.55 percent from 7.77 percent a year earlier.

Israel's top three banks will report quarterly results later this week.

($1 = 3.70 shekels) (Reporting by Tova Cohen; Editing by Steven Scheer)

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