Brazil's largest private-sector bank, Banco Bradesco, reported a 23.3 percent surge in net profit in the first quarter from the same period last year benefiting from the credit boom in Brazil.

Bradesco SA reported a healthy rise in net earnings to 2.1 billion reais ($1.2 billion) in the quarter that ended March 31, compared with 1.7 billion reais ($1 billion) during the same period a year ago, meeting analysts' expectations.

Bradesco reported earnings per share of 0.62 reais ($0.34) per share, up from 0.57 reais ($0.33) per share in the first quarter of 2007.

Revenue also leaped significantly with a 22 percent rise to 11.7 billion reais ($6.9 billion) in the first quarter, up from 9.6 billion ($5.6 billion) last year.

With a stable economy growing at the rate of more than 5 percent per year, a strong currency, high demand in exports, millions of Brazilians are having increased access to credit facilities and are now buying homes and cars.

Bradesco's credit portfolio jumped 38.5 percent in the first quarter from a year ago, to 169.41 billion reais. The portfolio, however, expanded a mere 5 percent from the previous quarter, implying a slowdown in consumer lending.

In 2008, Bradesco expects its loan portfolio to expand 21 percent to 25 percent.