* Q3 net profit 656 mln riyals vs 630 mln riyals yr-ago
* Results miss average analysts forecasts
* Bank says higher operating earnings hurt profit (Adds detail, background)
RIYADH, Oct 10 Saudi British Bank (SABB) posted a 4.1 percent rise in its third quarter net profit on Wednesday, missing analysts forecasts, as increased operating expenses hurt earnings growth.
SABB, the kingdom's fourth largest listed bank by market value and an affiliate of HSBC, posted net earnings of 656 million riyals ($175 million) in the three months ending September 30, compared with 630 million riyals in the same period last year.
Nine analysts polled by Reuters had pencilled in profit of, on average, 815 million riyals.
Net profit in the second quarter was 915 million riyals. In a statement posted on the bourse website, SABB attributed the quarterly decline to higher operating expenses. It did not provide a figure for operating expenses incurred in the quarter.
Total operating profit for the quarter rose 9.6 percent to 1.33 billion riyals, while income from special commissions grew 7.0 percent to 842 million riyals from last year.
Loans and advances at the end of quarter period amounted to 97.8 billion riyals, a rise of 18.8 percent year on year.
Saudi banks are benefiting from expansionary fiscal policies, ample liquidity and improving corporate loan demand.
Bank lending to the private sector grew by 14 percent in August over the same month last year, Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA - central bank), said in September.
A report by Credit Suisse in August predicted Saudi banks should deliver double-digit earnings growth for the next three years thanks to higher credit volumes. (Reporting By Angus McDowall; Editing by Praveen Menon and Dinesh Nair)