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Erste Climbs Most in Six Weeks on Profit, Romania: Prague Mover

Erste Group Bank AG jumped the most in more than six weeks after the company said it returned to profit, helped by “stabilization” in its Romanian business.

The stock rose 4.8 percent to 472.50 koruna by the close in Prague, the steepest gain since Sept. 14. It was the best performer in the Czech Republic’s PX equity index today, where Erste has a 23 percent weighting. Turnover in the lender’s shares was 146 percent of its three-month daily average volume, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Net income for July to September swung to 143.7 million euros ($186 million) from a 1.5 billion-euro loss a year earlier, the bank said today. Erste posted its first loss last year since at least 1988 on account of bad loans, writedowns and losses related to credit default swaps in Romania and Hungary. The Romanian unit will return to profit in 2013 after margins and non-performing loans improved in the third quarter, the company said.

“They are trying to push the Romania story, the outlook is a bit better than what I expected,” said Ronny Rehn, an analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods in London, who rates Erste market perform. “It looks like it might get better a little quicker.”

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