UPDATE 1-Qatar Islamic Bank Q4 net more than triples, beats expectations
* Q4 net profit 364.9 mln riyals vs 110.6 mln
* Analysts' average forecast was 316.5 mln riyals
* 2013 profit 1.34 bln riyals vs 1.24 bln
* Lending climbs 9.3 pct y/y
* Bad loan provisions down 26.7 pct (Adds detail, context)
DUBAI, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB), the Gulf state's largest sharia-compliant lender by assets, more than tripled its fourth-quarter net profit, beating analysts' expectations, as it continued to benefit from high loan growth in the country.
QIB made a net profit of 364.9 million riyals ($100.2 million) during the three months to Dec. 31, according to Reuters calculations, compared with 110.6 million riyals in the same period a year ago.
Analysts polled by Reuters had, on average, forecast a net profit of 316.5 million riyals for the quarter.
Reuters calculated the quarterly profit based on financial statements from the bank. Its full-year profit for 2013 was 1.34 billion riyals, up from 1.24 billion riyals in 2012, according to a bourse filing on Monday.
A major driver of its annual profit gain was the 9.3 percent year-on-year increase in its lending activity, the bank said, which reached 47.1 billion riyals at the end of December.
Lending growth in Qatar has been a major driver of banks' profits in recent quarters and is expected to remain high as the Gulf Arab state spends billions of dollars on infrastructure and preparations to host the soccer World Cup in 2022.
While expansion of total bank credit dropped to its slowest rate for 2-1/2 years in November, it was still growing at 12.3 percent year-on-year, central bank data showed.
QIB also benefited from a drop in bad loan provisions in 2013, which fell 26.7 percent on the 2012 figure to 360 million riyals.
Its customer deposits grew 16.7 percent in 2013, standing at 50.4 billion riyals on Dec. 31.
QIB added in the statement that its board had recommended a cash dividend of 4 riyals per share for 2013. This is higher than the 3.75 riyals per share paid for the previous year. ($1 = 3.6415 Qatar riyals) (Reporting by David French; Editing by Andrew Torchia)
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