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[MADRID] Banco Santander SA said fourth-quarter profit rose to 1.6 billion euros (S$2.443 billion) on lower loan provisions and higher income from Brazil, beating analyst estimates.
Net income at Spain's biggest bank compared with 25 million euros a year earlier when profit was hit by charges, including provisions for the wrongful sale in the UK of payment protection insurance. Analysts had expected earnings of 1.48 billion euros, the average of five analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
Chairman Ana Botin is counting on business in emerging markets and in consumer finance to help offset low interest rates in Europe, growing regulatory costs and weak demand for credit at home.
The bank in September lowered its profitability target for 2018, citing diminished prospects for growth, especially after the UK vote to leave the European Union. Britain contributes about a fifth of the bank's profit, same as Brazil.
"Going forward, we have many opportunities for profitable growth in Europe and the Americas, in an environment we anticipate will be volatile but generally better than 2016," Ms Botin said in a statement Wednesday.
The stock has gained more than 28 per cent in the past year, compared with a 10 per cent increase in the benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 Banks Price Index.