BNP Paribas misses forecast after AXA charge

 
City A.M. Reporter
BNP Paribas, France's biggest listed bank, missed forecasts for fourth-quarter profit after it booked a 534 million euro (£444.8m) charge on the value of its stake in insurer AXA.

BNP blamed the surprise one-off charge on "highly volatile" post-crisis stock markets that had taken AXA shares below their book value. BNP owns 5.2 per cent of AXA, Reuters data showed.

Overall 2010 results for BNP saw revenues and profits rise on the back of the bank's strong retail bank and integration of Belgium-focused crisis acquisition Fortis. The group raised its Fortis synergy target to 1.2bn euros, from 900m

For 2011, BNP expects a "slight decline" in loan-loss provisions in key Europe markets like France, Belgium and Italy as the risk environment improves, Chief Executive Baudouin Prot told Reuters television, adding acquisitions were not a focus.

"I'll be very blunt; at the moment, we are not very acquisitive," Baudouin Prot said in an interview. "This year we will concentrate on organic growth."

BNP reported fourth-quarter net income of 1.55 billion euros, up 13.6 per cent. Consensus forecasts had been expecting 1.73 billion, according to a Reuters poll of 11 analysts.

Group revenues rose 2.6 percent in the quarter, to 10.3 billion euros, missing forecasts of 10.5 billion.

Shares of BNP hit an 11-month high on Wednesday after smaller rival Societe Generale (SOGN.PA) whipped up investor enthusiasm with its own results. SocGen met forecasts with a near-quadrupling of net profit.

Like SocGen, BNP said it would raise its dividend, to 2.1 euros per share, from 1.5 euros in 2009.