BNP Paribas Q4 profits dip from year ago, yet bank sees improving earnings

PARIS, Feb 6 (Reuters) - BNP Paribas slightly increased its 2020 profitability target on the back of a strengthening European economy, although its quarterly earnings came below expectations due to higher costs and provisions against two specific corporate clients.

The French bank’s net profit fell to 1.43 billion euros ($1.8 billion) in the fourth quarter from 1.44 billion a year earlier, below the 1.59 billion euros expected by analysts in a Reuters poll.

Revenues fell 1.2 percent to 10.53 billion euros, versus the 10.47 billion predicted by analysts.

France’s biggest bank confirmed its 2020 targets, but said it was now targeting a return on equity of above 10 percent in 2020 versus a target of 10 percent disclosed in March last year.

“In a lacklustre interest rate and market environment, the business activity of the group developed vigorously, sustained by a gradually stronger European growth,” the bank said in a statement.

($1 = 0.8085 euros)

Reporting by Maya Nikolaeva and Matthieu Protard Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta