Bendigo & Adelaide Bank First-Half Profit Rose 67%

Bendigo & Adelaide Bank Ltd., an Australian regional lender, said first-half profit jumped 67 percent as interest income increased.

Net income in the six months ended Dec. 31 rose to A$173.9 million ($173.9 million) from A$104.1 million in the same period a year earlier, the bank said in a statement today. That beat a forecast by Credit Suisse Group AG analysts including James Ellis for profit of A$153.7 million.

Bendigo & Adelaide, a 153-year-old bank that last year purchased Rural Bank to expand lending to farmers, faces waning credit demand and potential fallout from floods in Queensland and Victoria states, according to Citigroup Inc. analysts Wes Nason and Craig Williams. That’s being offset by higher interest income, after banks led by Commonwealth Bank of Australia boosted borrowing costs more than the central bank in November.

“We believe the market has underplayed the earnings risk from the recent Australian flood disaster and Cyclone Yasi,” Nason and Williams said ahead of today’s earnings. They have a “sell” rating on Bendigo & Adelaide’s stock. The bank may also struggle to maintain its current dividend payout, they said.

Bendigo & Adelaide’s shares have lagged behind larger rivals this year, gaining 2 percent. Commonwealth Bank has climbed 8.6 percent and National Australia Bank Ltd. has added 8.4 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jacob Greber in Sydney at jgreber@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Philip Lagerkranser at lagerkranser@bloomberg.net

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