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Earnings at Israel’s top banks smash market expectations

City A.M. Reporter
NET profits at Israel’s two biggest banks, Leumi and Hapoalim, yesterday beat forecasts in the first quarter as an economic recovery boosted financing income but loan loss provisions were less than expected.

Leumi’s net profit rose to 596m shekels (£107m) from 429m a year earlier. It had been forecast to earn 552m shekels. Income from financing operations before provision for doubtful debts rose to 1.807bn shekels while the provision for doubtful debts fell to 130m shekels from 354m.

In view of the financial crisis in Europe, Leumi said it was monitoring exposure to Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland. Its exposure to these countries on 31 March was 1.1bn shekels, of which 749m was to Spain and 305m to Ireland.

Hapoalim, Israel’s second biggest bank, said quarterly net profit rose to 462m shekels from 42m a year earlier, coming in ahead of the average forecast of 442m shekels given by analysts.

The bad debt provisions were lower than forecast, falling to 299m shekels. Income from financing operations before provision for doubtful debts rose to 1.752bn shekels but was slightly below analysts’ forecast.

Meanwhile, Israel Discount Bank, the third largest bank, posted a quarterly net profit of 143m shekels on Thursday, up slightly from a year earlier but less than the 225m forecast.