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Lower operating costs help Bladex book 65% jump in Q2 net profit

BancoLatinoamericano de Comercio Exterior SA, or Bladex, saw itssecond-quarter net profit jump 65% year over year as the bank managed to cutoperating expenses by 21% and improve its key profitability ratios.

Net profit for the Panama-based company totaled $22.3million in the second quarter, up from $13.5 million in the year-ago period.Net interest income, meanwhile, increased 10% annually to reach $38.2 million.EPS for the quarter was 57 cents, compared to 35 cents a year earlier.

Fees and other income rose 43% to $5.3 million, with thebank completing five transactions in the loan structuring and syndicationbusiness during the three-month period. The bank's net interest margin improvedto 2.06% in the second quarter from 1.79% a year earlier.

Operating expenses fell to $10.1 million from $12.7 million,helping offset higher impairment provisions from credit loss allowances.Additionally, the bank recorded a residual gain of about $200,000 from thedivestment of its remaining participation in investment funds, effective April1.

The bank's commercial portfolio shrank to about $6.77billion in the second quarter from $7.41 billion a year ago. Its NPL ratio aspercentage of the gross loan portfolio was 1.30%, compared to 0.30% in thesecond quarter of 2015.

Return on average equity ticked to 9.1% from 5.8% whilereturn on average assets improved to 1.20% from 0.70%.

The bank noted that its board approved a common dividend of38.5 cents per share for the second quarter, payable Aug. 17 to shareholders ofrecord as of Aug. 3.

"This quarter saw us continuing to shrink the exposureprofile in Brazil, not just in relative, but also in absolute terms as therecessionary trend continues in that country, while partially compensating withgrowth in other parts of the region," CEO Rubens Amaral Jr. said in astatement.