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Santander Río's quarterly profit jumps 18% as interest income rises

Banco Santander Río SA's fourth-quarter 2018 profit jumped 18% higher from a year earlier as stronger interest and commission income offset a rise in loan provision expenses.

The Buenos Aires-based bank booked net income of 3.25 billion Argentine pesos for the three-month period, up from 2.75 billion pesos earned in the prior-year quarter.

The result was largely driven by stronger net interest income, which increased to 7.91 billion pesos from 6.04 billion pesos a year ago. Net commission income, meanwhile, more than tripled to 2.09 billion pesos from 601 million pesos.

Santander Río registered 4.25 billion pesos in loan loss provisions in the fourth quarter, up sharply from 1.15 billion pesos a year earlier. Administrative expenses also rose year over year, growing to 3.38 billion pesos from 2.28 billion pesos. Other operating expenses, however, declined to 1.90 billion pesos from 2.58 billion pesos.

The company said its net loan portfolio expanded to 210.54 billion pesos at the end of 2018 from 170.65 billion pesos at the close of the previous year. The bank's nonperforming loan ratio came in at 3.25%, compared to 2.62% in the third quarter of 2018 and 2.37% in the year-ago period. The increase was mainly due to delinquencies in the bank's consumer credit portfolio.

The lender's annualized return on equity improved to 30.3% in the fourth quarter from 18.8% a year ago, while its annualized return on assets increased to 2.6% from 2.1%.

The fourth-quarter results brought Santander Río's full-year 2018 profit to 10.23 billion pesos, rising from 6.38 billion pesos in 2017.

As of March 12, US$1 was equivalent to 41.46 Argentine pesos.