TEL AVIV, March 18 Mizrahi-Tefahot Bank
, Israel's fourth-largest lender, reported a 10 percent
drop in quarterly profit, weighed down by lower financing income
and higher operating expenses and taxes.
Mizrahi-Tefahot, the first of Israel's top banks to report
quarterly earnings, on Monday posted fourth-quarter net profit
of 270 million shekels ($73 million), compared with 299 million
a year earlier.
Analysts on average forecast Mizrahi would earn 273 million
shekels in the quarter, according to a Reuters poll.
Its charge for credit losses fell to 48 million shekels from
62 million. Financing income before credit losses fell 12.4
percent to 643 million shekels.
Operating expenses rose to 740 million shekels from 689
while tax provisions jumped to 176 million shekels from 93
million. Mizrahi said it had a one-time reduction of 45 million
shekels in tax expenses in the 2011 quarter and without this,
net profit would have increased 6.3 percent.
Mizrahi-Tefahot is Israel's largest mortgage lender with an
average market share of 34 percent.
Its ratio of Tier I capital to risk elements rose to 8.55
percent from 7.77 percent a year earlier.
Israel's top three banks will report quarterly results later
($1 = 3.70 shekels)
(Reporting by Tova Cohen; Editing by Steven Scheer)