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RIYADH, April 7 Saudi Arabia's Riyad Bank
posted a 5.5 percent rise in its first-quarter profits
on Sunday, beating analysts' forecasts.
The kingdom's third-largest listed bank by market value said
in a bourse statement that it made 951 million riyals ($254
million) in the three months ended March 31, compared with 901
million riyals in the same period a year earlier.
Analysts surveyed by Reuters expected the bank to post an
average of 876 million riyals for the first quarter.
Riyad Bank attributed the rise in profits to higher
operating income, without providing further explanation.
Operating income for the quarter rose by 4.9 percent to 1.73
A spokesman for the bank could not immediately be reached
for further comment.
Profits from special commissions rose by 2.1 percent to 1.09
Loans and advances increased by 6.4 percent to 121 billion
riyals at the end of March from the same point of 2012.
In a March 26 research note, Arqaam Capital forecast lending
growth for Riyad Bank of around 7 percent over the course of
2013. Growth will be sluggish, given the bank's conservative
approach to risk and its desire to maintain net interest
margins, it said.
Total assets at the end of the first quarter were 186
billion riyals, 1.7 percent higher the year before, while
customer deposits gained 3.2 percent to 144 billion riyals.
($1 = 3.7502 Saudi riyals)
(Reporting By Angus McDowall and David French; editing by Jane