UPDATE 1-Bangkok Bank Q4 profit misses estimates, slower loan growth ahead
(Adds economic environment, Siam Commercial Bank, Kasikornbank earnings)
* Oct-Dec net profit 7.7 bln baht vs 8.2 bln baht analyst view
* 4Q profit up 3.6 pct on year, down 14 pct on quarter
* 2014 loan growth goal 5-7 pct vs 9.2 pct in 2013
By Khettiya Jittapong
BANGKOK, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Bangkok Bank Pcl, Thailand's largest lender by assets, reported a second on-quarter decline in net profit, missing analyst estimates, signalling continued slowing loan growth in a country hobbled by anti-government protests.
Bangkok Bank and rivals such as Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) and Kasikornbank Pcl have lowered loan growth targets for this year in anticipation of reduced consumption and investment brought about in part by political unrest.
Consumer confidence fell for the ninth month in December to a two-year low, and the government has postponed infrastructure investment until the budget year beginning October. On Thursday, the finance minister said political instability could lead to 2014 economic growth of 3 percent rather than 4.5 percent.
Bangkok Bank, a benchmark for Thai industry, has a 2014 loan growth target range of 5 percent to 7 percent compared with 9.2 percent last year.
That could bring net profit growth to 5 percent, according to Thomson Reuters' SmartEstimate, compared with 12.7 percent in 2013 when profit reached 35.9 billion baht ($1.1 billion).
The lender reported October-December net profit of 7.7 billion baht on Friday, 3.6 percent higher than a year prior but 14 percent lower than the previous quarter.
That compared with an 8.2 billion baht mean estimate of 10 analysts in a Reuters poll.
Shares in Bangkok Bank, valued at $10.1 billion, ended flat on Friday before the earnings release, compared with a 0.47 percent fall in the benchmark index.
Thailand's banking share index has fallen 14 percent over the past 3 months whereas the benchmark has declined 11 percent.
Bangkok Bank's on-quarter profit decline also reflected higher operating costs and weak net interest income, brought about by the central bank lowering its benchmark interest rate.
No.3 lender SCB likewise reported an on-quarter profit decline, of 8 percent, as did No.4 lender Kasikornbank, at 11 percent.
SCB has a loan growth target range of 7 percent to 10 percent for 2014, compared with an average annual growth of 17 percent from 2010 to 2013.
($1 = 32.8150 Thai baht) (Reporting by Khettiya Jittapong; Editing by Christopher Cushing)
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