RIYADH, (Reuters) – Samba Financial Group, Saudi Arabia’s second-largest lender by market value, on Wednesday posted a 7.1 percent fall in its first-quarter net profit, roughly in-line with analyst expectations.
Samba made a net profit of 1.12 billion riyals ($298.7 million) in the three months to end March, compared with 1.2 billion riyals in the same period a year earlier, it said in a bourse statement on Wednesday.
Analysts, polled by Reuters, expected Samba to make an average 1.1 billion riyals in net profit for the first-quarter.
Saudi lenders have failed to impress investors so far as banks such as Banque Saudi Fransi 1050.SE reported a marginal rise in first quarter profit but fell short of analyst expectations.
Al-Rajhi Bank 1120.SE, the Kingdom’s largest Islamic lender, also missed analyst forecasts on Monday, when it reported first quarter gains on improving operational profits.
Analysts expect Saudi banks to perform better in 2011 as they cut down on provisions and begin to lend more as the country is undergoing multi-billion dollar infrastructure projects.
Last month, King Abdullah offered a more than $90 billion handout to boost security and religious police forces as well as on infrastructure projects. This handout follows a previous package of $37 billion.