Australia's Macquarie beats forecasts with 17 pct FY profit rise

SYDNEY Thu May 2, 2013 6:54pm EDT

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SYDNEY May 3 (Reuters) - Macquarie Group Ltd <MQG.AX<, Australia's top investment bank, beat forecasts with a 17 percent rise in full-year profit as cost cutting and strength in its annuity-style businesses outweighed lingering weakness in capital markets.

Macquarie, which has been shifting its focus from its traditional but riskier banking products to businesses such as unlisted funds, retail banking and leasing, posted a full-year net profit of A$851 million ($872.15 million) versus A$730 million a year ago.

Analysts have scaled back forecasts since February, when Macquarie said its full-year net profit would rise about 10 percent, due to subdued client activity in areas such as equity capital markets and derivatives.

The average forecast was for a net profit of about A$818 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, about A$20 million lower than in February and down from early expectations for a 2013 net profit of more than A$1 billion.

Macquarie said it would pay a final dividend of A$1.25 per share, taking full-year payouts to A$2 per share, and resolved to pay out 60 to 80 percent of earnings in dividends.($1 = 0.9758 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Lincoln Feast; Editing by Gary Hill)

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