February 26, 2013 / 8:11 AM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Jyske Bank braced for tough times as Q4 profit just tops fcast

* Q4 pretax profit jumps 151 percent to 440 mln DKK

* 2012 writedowns 1.8 bln, in line with forecast for 1.6 bln-2.0 bln

* Proposes no dividend for the year

* Sees slow economic recovery, sluggish lending growth (Adds background, details)

COPENHAGEN, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Denmark’s second biggest bank by market capitalisation, Jyske Bank, said on Tuesday it was braced for a tough economic climate as it posted a slightly bigger-than-expected rise in fourth-quarter pre-tax profit.

Danish banks are slowly recovering from a burst property bubble and heavy writedowns on loans to struggling farmers. Denmark is by far the weakest economy in the Nordic region.

And unlike their Swedish rivals, neither Jyske nor Denmark’s biggest lender - Danske Bank - proposed dividends for 2012 as they retain earnings and boost their balance sheets for possibly tougher times.

“Jyske expects that the economic recovery will be long in coming. Consumer spending and investments will only grow modestly and, also, exports will be affected by the slowdown in growth in the euro zone,” the bank said in a statement.

The bank, the last of the major Nordic banks to report earnings, posted a 440 million Danish crown ($78 million) pretax profit in the fourth quarter, just topping the 421 million crown profit seen in a Reuters poll of analysts.

That compared with a 175 million crown result in the year-ago period.

Jyske had slipped deep into the red in the second quarter last year after being forced to take major impairment charges and provisions for losses, and analysts have kept a close eye on writedowns.

For the full year, the bank posted 1.8 billion in loan impairment charges after forecasting a total of between 1.6 billion and 2.0 billion crowns, up from 1.5 billion in 2011.

Many hope 2013 will mark a turning point for Danish banks.

Danske said earlier this month it expected to pay a dividend for 2013 after posting a near four-fold rise in quarterly pretax profits on a sharp drop in loan impairments. Jyske did not provide any such forecast on dividends.

Danish banks have struggled to keep up with their Swedish rivals, which wrapped up 2012 with good profitability, high levels of capital and promises to divvy out more cash to shareholders.

Jyske agreed in January to take over Sparekassen Lolland after the unlisted rival failed to meet the financial watchdog’s solvency requirements.

Further acquisitions could be in the making.

“Under the current economic conditions, it is most likely that acquisitions will be the primary means to achieve the growth target,” the bank said on Tuesday.

Denmark has the most fragmented banking industry in the Nordic region with more than 100 banks and many in the industry are predicting further consolidation in the wake of the financial crisis. (Reporting by Mia Shanley)

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