MADRID, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Santander, the euro zone’s biggest bank, on Thursday fell short of analysts’ expectations as it posted a net profit of 4.37 billion euros ($5.96 billion) for 2013, nearly double what it earned the year before as charges on soured real estate exposures fell.
The Spanish bank said net interest income - what it makes on loans minus funding costs - was down 13.3 percent compared to 2012 at 25.94 billion euros, below expectations.
In the fourth quarter, Santander said profit rose slightly, up 0.4 percent from a year ago to 1.06 billion euros.
The bank said it was starting a “new era” of strong profit growth after several years of efforts to strengthen its balance sheet and capital. ($1 = 0.7329 euros) (Reporting by Sarah White; Editing by Tracy Rucinski)