* Bank unit boosts group's earnings
* Net profit up 53 percent (Adds bank's profit)
BUENOS AIRES Feb 16 Argentine financial group Grupo Financiero Galicia (GFG.BA) (GGAL.O) reported higher fourth-quarter earnings on Tuesday, due mainly to gains at its banking subsidiary, but results trailed expectations.
The company reported net profit of 49.3 million pesos ($12.7 million), up 53.1 percent from 32.2 million pesos during the same quarter a year earlier.
A Reuters poll of four local analysts found a median forecast of 60.5 million pesos, with estimates ranging from 48 million to 94 million pesos.
Banco Galicia GAL.BA, the group's banking unit, posted net earnings of 53.6 million pesos due to increased earnings from private-sector lending and lower administration costs, the company said.
It said its share in the private sector loans market rose 1.55 percentage points in 2009 to 7.67 percent. ($1 = 3.86 as of Dec. 31) (Reporting by Jorge Otaola and Helen Popper; editing by John Wallace)