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Bradesco First-Quarter Profit Rises 28% on Lending Growth

April 27 (Bloomberg) -- Banco Bradesco SA, Brazil’s second-biggest bank by market value, said adjusted first-quarter profit rose 28 percent as credit growth accelerated in Latin America’s largest economy.

Adjusted net income, which excludes one-time items, rose to 2.74 billion reais ($1.8 billion), or 2.72 reais per share, from 2.15 billion reais, or 2.07 reais, a year earlier, the Osasco, Brazil-based bank said in a regulatory filing today. The result fell below the mean estimate of 2.75 billion reais in a Bloomberg survey of four analysts.

Total outstanding credit in Brazil surged 21 percent to 1.74 trillion reais in February from a year earlier as unemployment remained near a record low and salary gains fueled demand for corporate and consumer loans. The central bank forecasts credit growth of 13 percent in 2011, Tulio Maciel, head of the bank’s economic research department, said last month.

Loan growth was robust in the first quarter, even with government measures to restrict credit, Marcelo Telles and Victor Schabbel, research analysts at Credit Suisse Group AG, wrote in an April 25 report.

Bradesco’s loan portfolio expanded 21 percent in March from a year earlier to 284.7 billion reais, the company said. Total assets increased 27 percent to 675.4 billion reais. The average default rate, defined as a delay in payment of more than 90 days, dropped to 3.6 percent at the end of March from 4.4 percent a year earlier. The rate was 3.6 percent in the fourth quarter.

Bradesco’s shares have gained 16 percent in the past year through yesterday, outperforming the 1 percent gain for the benchmark Bovespa stock index and a 5.4 percent advance for Itau Unibanco Holding SA, Brazil’s biggest bank by market value.

To contact the reporter on this story: Adriana Brasileiro in Rio de Janeiro at abrasileiro@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Francisco Marcelino at mdeoliveira@bloomberg.net

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