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Bladex books 22% drop in Q1 net profit

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Bladex books 22% drop in Q1 net profit

Banco Latinoamericanode Comercio Exterior S.A., or Bladex, posted a net profit of $23.4 millionfor the first quarter of 2016, down 22% from the $29.9 million earned in the year-agoperiod.

EPS for the quarter was 60 cents, compared to 77 cents a yearearlier.

The bank recorded an improved business profit of $28.1 millionin the three-month period mainly from higher net interest income and lower operatingexpenses, but this was partially offset by negative noncore results of $4.7 million,mostly from the lender's participation in investment funds. Bladex noted that thisparticipation was terminated as of April 1.

Net interest income totaled $39.5 million, up 10% year over yeardue to higher average lending rates. The bank's net interest margin ticked to 2.06%from 1.84% a year ago. Fees and other income, meanwhile, increased 3% annually to$2.8 million primarily as a result of higher commissions in the structuring andsyndication business.

Operating revenues fell to $37.0 million from $42.2 million inthe first quarter of 2015, while operating expenses declined to $12.4 million from$13.1 million.

The bank's commercial portfolio shrank to about $6.91 billionin the first quarter from $7.09 billion a year earlier. Its NPL ratio as a percentageof the gross loan portfolio was 0.43%, up from 0.32% a year ago. Return on averageequity fell to 9.6% from 13.0%.

"The overall economic environment continues to be very challenging,as GDP growth remains sluggish and trade flows are increasing only modestly in lightof continued downward trends in commodity prices," CEO Rubens Amaral Jr. said.

Additionally, the company noted that Ricardo Arango was electedas a director representing class E shareholders to replace William Hayes, who hasretired from the board.

Bladex has also approved a quarterly common dividend of 38.5cents per share for the first quarter. The dividend will be paid May 11 to stockholdersof record as of April 25.