JERUSALEM, March 19 Israel Discount Bank
reported a drop in quarterly profit due to lower
capital gains and a one-time provision but the results beat
Discount, Israel's third-largest lender, said on Wednesday
it earned 72 million shekels ($20.8 million) in the fourth
quarter, compared with 169 million a year earlier and
expectations of 66 million shekels in a Reuters poll.
Excluding a 158 million shekel provision for a decline in
the value of its holdings in the First International Bank of
Israel (FIBI), Discount posted profit of 230 million
shekels in the fourth quarter.
Discount holds 26.5 percent of FIBI, Israel's fifth-largest
bank, and has said it plans to trim its stake.
Net interest income edged up 0.5 percent to 1.07 billion
shekels, while credit loss expenses fell to 123 million shekels
from 252 million.
Lilach Asher-Topilsky, who took over as Discount's chief
executive this month, said the bank aims to present an updated
plan in August.
"For now, I would only mention that we will continue the
bank's focus on continued retail growth and further efficiency
measures," she said. "It is clear to us and to the market, that
the cost side is the key factor that encumbers the bank's
Israel's top two banks will report fourth-quarter results by
the end of March. FIBI posted fourth-quarter profit of 141
million shekels, up from 132 million a year earlier.
Discount's core Tier 1 capital to risk-weighted assets rose
to 9.3 percent at the end of 2013 from 8.6 percent at the end of
2012. It was 8.9 percent based on Basel III directives.
The bank said it aims for a core capital adequacy ratio of
9.3-9.4 percent by the end of 2014.
Israel's banking regulator has mandated banks to hold core
Tier I ratio of at least 9 percent by the start of 2015 as part
of a global drive to strengthen the industry and prevent a
repeat of the 2008 financial crisis.
($1 = 3.4606 Israeli Shekels)
(Reporting by Steven Scheer)