China's Bank of Communications' Q4 profit up 3 pct, beats estimates

BEIJING/HONG KONG, March 29 (Reuters) - Bank of Communications Co Ltd (BoCom) , China’s fifth-largest commercial bank by assets, reported a 3 percent rise in fourth-quarter net profit helped by improving net interest margins.

BoCom posted on Friday a net profit of 16.33 billion yuan ($2.43 billion) for the quarter ended December 2018, versus 15.8 billion yuan a year ago, according to Reuters calculations based on the company’s full-year figures.

That was above the 14.97 billion yuan estimate from analysts, according to Refinitiv SmartEstimate. SmartEstimates give more weight to recent estimates by analysts who are more consistently accurate.

For the full year, net profit rose to 73.63 billion yuan from 70.22 billion yuan a year earlier.

BoCom’s non-performing loan ratio was 1.49 percent by end-December, unchanged from end-September.

Net interest margin, a key gauge of profitability rose to 1.51 percent by end-December from 1.47 percent at end-September. ($1 = 6.7200 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Shu Zhang and Julie Zhu; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)