MILAN Aug 8 Banco Popolare, Italy's fourth biggest bank, beat expectations by posting a net profit of 24.9 million euros ($33 million) in the second quarter but said charges for losses on bad debts had risen in the period from a year earlier.
The result compared with an average Thomson Reuters estimate of a net loss of 3.7 million euros, based on forecasts from four analysts, and allowed Banco Popolare to return to profit after a 19 million euro loss in the first quarter.
The first-half net profit was boosted by a 1.6 percent decline in operating costs and the positive contribution of equity stakes held by the bank. These added 40 million euros compared with negative impact of 28.5 million euro a year ago.
The bank, which recently successfully completed a 1.5 billion euro capital increase, said its Common Equity Tier 1 ratio stood at 11.4 percent at the end of June.
Loan loss charges in the three months to June were 292 million euros from 328 million euros in the first quarter of 2014 and 209 million euros in the seocnd quarter of 2013.
Banco Popolare said it had reduced its exposure towards the European Central Bank to 10.8 billion euros after paying back 2.8 billion euros of cheap loans in the period.
(1 US dollar = 0.7456 euro) (Reporting by Silvia Aloisi, editing by Valentina Za)