SEB raises dividend as Q4 earnings top forecast

STOCKHOLM Wed Feb 5, 2014 1:10am EST

STOCKHOLM Feb 5 (Reuters) - Swedish banking group SEB reported on Wednesday a stronger-than-expected rise in fourth-quarter operating profit as it proposed a dividend well above analyst forecasts.

SEB's operating profit in the quarter rose to 5.01 billion Swedish crowns ($768 million), beating a mean forecast for 4.68 billion in a Reuters poll and compared with 4.62 billion in the year-ago period.

SEB, which has a dividend policy to pay out 40 percent or above earnings per share, said it would pay out 4.00 crowns a share for 2013, corresponding to a 59 percent payout ratio. That was above an analyst forecast for 3.54 crowns per share and compared with 2.75 in 2012.

($1 = 6.5255 Swedish crowns) (Reporting by Mia Shanley and Johan Ahlander)