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Saudi Fransi Gains Most Since March on Profit: Riyadh Mover

Jan. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Banque Saudi Fransi, partly owned by Credit Agricole SA, rose the most in almost 10 months after the lender’s fourth-quarter profit beat analysts’ estimates.

Shares in the Riyadh-based bank rose as much as 5.1 percent to 30.9 riyals, the highest intraday price since March 24, and were trading at 30.6 riyals as of 12:16 p.m. local time.

Fourth quarter net income rose to 808 million riyals ($215.5 million) from 661 million riyals, the lender said in a statement yesterday. The bank had been expected to post net income of 750 million riyals, the mean estimate of five analysts, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Earnings per share rose to 3.34 riyals from 3.22 riyals, the bank said.

“This is an encouraging start to the Saudi banks’ reporting,” JPMorgan Chase & Co analysts, including Naresh Bilandani and Christian Kern, wrote in a note to clients. It “will likely set upbeat expectations for full-year reporting of peers, given investor concerns on the sector post a damp third quarter.”

Saudi Arabian lenders are benefiting from lending to government projects as the world’s top oil exporter pursues more than $500 billion of investments to develop infrastructure and create jobs. Al-Rajhi Bank, the kingdom’s biggest lender by market value, will probably post a 7 percent increase in 2012 net income next week to 7.92 billion riyals, according to the mean estimate of fourteen analysts compiled by Bloomberg.

To contact the reporters on this story: Mahmoud Kassem in Abu Dhabi at mkassem1@bloomberg.net; Shaji Mathew in Dubai at shajimathew@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dale Crofts at dcrofts@bloomberg.net

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