* Q2 net profit 1.95 bln riyals vs 2.12 bln riyals yr-ago - statement
* Fourth successive quarterly profit drop
* Provisioning again behind profit fall (Recasts, adds analyst quotes, adds detail, context)
By Nadia Saleem
DUBAI, July 13 (Reuters) - Al Rajhi Bank posted a fourth successive quarterly profit decline as its second-quarter earnings fell 8.2 percent year-on-year, with Saudi Arabia’s largest listed lender hit again by higher provisioning.
The bank said it made 1.95 billion riyals ($520 million) in the three months ending June 30, compared with 2.12 billion riyals in the same period a year earlier, citing an increase in total operating expenses for the drop without elaborating.
Saudi companies issue brief earnings statements early in the reporting period before publishing more detailed results later.
The last three quarters saw earnings dragged down by higher provisioning and higher operating expenses in this quarter has been interpreted to mean rising impairments.
“It seems there is a one off charge but overall Al Rajhi will always have a higher cost of risk due to its retail focus,” said Ali Adou, fund manager at Abu Dhabi-based The National Investor.
“For corporate clients, the only risky exposure is to the contracting industry where banks have high lending. The impact from labour shortage on the contracting sector will continue for the coming quarters,” he added.
Some firms in the kingdom, especially construction companies, have reported their earnings have been adversely affected since a crackdown in late 2013 on illegal foreign workers and new laws aimed at employing more Saudis - who usually command higher salaries than expatriates.
Al Rajhi’s quarterly profit decline stands against the positive earnings performance reported by most other Saudi lenders - on Sunday, Samba Financial Group became the latest bank to beat forecasts with a 7 percent year-on-year gain in net profit.
Despite the decline, Al Rajhi’s net profit figure was in line with analyst forecasts, with a poll conducted by Reuters expecting an average profit of 1.97 billion riyals for the quarter.
The higher provisioning overshadowed growth in other areas of the business.
Operating income for the quarter rose by 6.6 percent on the corresponding period of 2013 to 3.66 billion riyals, while profits from special commissions increased 4.9 percent over the same timeframe to 2.51 billion riyals.
Loans and advances at the end of June stood at 200.9 billion riyals, gaining 8.7 percent on the same point of 2013, while deposits climbed 7.9 percent to 245.4 billion riyals over the same period.
Chiradeep Ghosh, banking analyst at Bahraini investment bank SICO, said the market would react negatively to the second-quarter numbers but expected it to be the final period of declining profits.
“We expect to see earnings picking up from third quarter 2014, owing to lower base, sustained balance sheet growth and tapering provisioning charges.” ($1 = 3.7503 Saudi Riyals) (Editing by David French)