ICICI Bank Q1 Profit Jumps 36 Percent, Beats Forecast

  on July 27 2012 6:30 AM

ICICI Bank(ICBK.NS), India's top private lender, posted on Friday a 36.3 percent jump in quarterly profit, its strongest growth in more than a year, helped by robust loan growth, high fee income and better asset quality.

ICICI said it made a net profit of 18.15 billion rupees in the fiscal first quarter ended June compared with 13.32 billion rupees a year earlier. Analysts, on average, had expected profit of 17.4 billion rupees, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The strong results vindicate its low-risk strategy, as India's economy slows. The bank was dealt a severe blow by the global financial crisis as its bold bets on consumer loans soured but has subsequently cleaned up its books.

The results also show that private banks are better placed for profit growth in the current environment than government-owned banks, which account for 70 percent of the market in India but whose lending decisions are not always driven by commercial considerations.

State-run Canara Bank (CNBK.NS) missed street estimates in its latest quarterly earnings while No.2 state lender Punjab National Bank (PNBK.NS) also disappointed with a spurt in bad loans.

But smaller private lenders HDFC Bank (HDBK.NS), Axis Bank (AXBK.NS) and Yes Bank (YESB.NS) all recently reported strong profit growth.

Government-run State Bank of India, the country's No.1 lender which controls about a quarter of the nation's loans and deposits, is yet to report.

High interest rates to rein in racing inflation and New Delhi's slow pace of implementing reforms have put the brakes on India's economy, which grew 8-9 percent between 2005 and 2008.

The International Monetary Fund has sharply downgraded growth estimates for India to 6.1 percent this fiscal year and 6.5 percent in the next.

ICICI's net non-performing loans as percentage of total loans dropped to 0.71 percent from 1.04 percent. Net interest income, or the difference of interest earned and interest expended, rose about a third to 31.9 billion rupees.

ICICI shares were up 3.09 percent at 0700 GMT. They have risen about a third since the start of the year, outperforming the 28 percent growth in the BSE banking index and a 10 percent growth in the broader market during the same period.

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