UPDATE 1-Saudi's Al Rajhi Bank third-quarter profit falls 8 pct
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RIYADH Oct 10 (Reuters) - Al Rajhi Bank, Saudi Arabia's largest listed lender, said on Thursday third-quarter net profit fell 8.1 percent, widely missing the average forecast of analysts and bucking a positive trend in results reported by other Saudi banks.
The bank made 1.72 billion riyals ($458.6 million) in the three months to September 30, compared with 1.87 billion riyals in the same period a year earlier, it said in a statement to the Saudi bourse.
Analysts polled by Reuters expected the bank, on average, to post a net profit of 2.08 billion riyals for the third quarter.
Al Rajhi attributed the fall in net profit to a decrease in operating income, which dipped 4.6 percent compared to the corresponding period of 2012. It did not elaborate further.
The profit drop goes against the general trend in this reporting season, where most other Saudi banks are producing strong net profit growth on the back of a surging economy, fuelled by high oil prices, which has boosted lending, deposits and deal activity.
Saudi companies issue brief earnings statements early in the reporting period before publishing more detailed results later.
Al Rajhi's loans and advances at the end of the third quarter stood at 185 billion riyals, gaining 12 percent on the same point of 2012.
While at a nine-month low in August, bank sector lending to private companies still grew at a rate of 15 percent year-on-year, according to central bank data.
Increased retail lending has been a key driver of the Al Rajhi's overall loan growth - it accounted for 70 percent of total loans in 2012 - and will continue to be so given its large network, Global Investment House said in a June 17 report.
Customer deposits stood at 225 billion riyals on September 30, up 12 percent on the same point last year.
Al Rajhi's total assets were worth 273 billion riyals at the end of the third quarter, up 10 percent on the corresponding point in 2012.
($1 = 3.7503 Saudi riyals) (Reporting by David French and Angus McDowall; Editing by William Maclean and Jane Merriman)
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