Danske Says Profit Surges More Than Fivefold as Bad Loans Drop

Danske Bank A/S posted a more-than fivefold surge in profit last quarter after Denmark’s biggest bank said impairments dropped.

Net income rose to 1.15 billion kroner ($208 million) in the three months through December from 200 million kroner a year earlier, the Copenhagen-based lender said in a statement to the stock exchange today. That beat the 1.1 billion-krone estimate in a Bloomberg survey of analysts. Impairments sank to 2.6 billion kroner from 4.8 billion kroner, the bank said.

Danske said last year it needs to eliminate 3,000 jobs to stay competitive after losing money on housing bubbles in Denmark and Ireland. The lender’s efforts to cut costs and be more selective with its customers have helped it improve profit even after the Danish economy contracted last year.

“These are our best financial results since 2007 and it is definitely a step in the right direction,” Danske Chief Executive Officer, Eivind Kolding, said in the statement. “The earnings initiatives we have implemented are starting to produce results.”

Danske announced last quarter it will adjust its prices to reward customers with more business at the bank. The strategy has left the lender less popular with private clients, and it scored the lowest of any company in five years in a customer satisfaction survey published yesterday by Jyllands-Posten.

Clients, Shareholders

The bank is also losing popularity among business clients, and sank to third place, behind SEB AB and Nordea Bank AB, in a similar survey by Prospera, Borsen reported today. Danske had previously ranked second.

In contrast, shareholders have rewarded the bank for its efforts to cut costs. Danske’s stock has gained 9.3 percent this year, beating a 5.7 percent increase in the 40-member Bloomberg index of European financial stocks.

“We are in full swing with the implementation of our strategy that will ensure we achieve our targets in 2015,” Kolding said.

Danske Bank said it will report a profit after tax of as much as 10 billion kroner this year as impairments drop “slightly.” Earnings before impairments will be unchanged from 2012, depressed by low interest rates and low economic growth, the bank said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Frances Schwartzkopff in Copenhagen at fschwartzko1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tasneem Brogger at tbrogger@bloomberg.net; Christian Wienberg at cwienberg@bloomberg.net

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