Erste keeps outlook, Q1 net falls 49 pct

VIENNA, April 29 Mon Apr 29, 2013 1:36am EDT

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VIENNA, April 29 (Reuters) - Erste Group Bank reiterated its outlook for stable operating results this year while posting a drop in first-quarter net profit slightly larger than market expectations.

"Erste Group expects a slight improvement in economic performance for Central and Eastern Europe in the second half of 2013, even though growth will remain moderate. Accordingly, Erste Group targets a stable operating result for 2013," emerging Europe's third-biggest lender said on Monday.

The Austrian bank said net profit after minorities fell 49.1 percent to 176.2 million euros ($229.5 million). Seven analysts polled by Reuters had on average expected a profit of 188 million euros versus a year-earlier profit that was flattered by one-off factors. ($1 = 0.7676 euros) (Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Angelika Gruber)