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Santander Primed for Improved Earnings, Botin Says

Banco Santander SA, Spain’s biggest bank, is primed to deliver improved earnings led by recovery in its home market as charges for bad loans subside and lending recovers, Chairman Emilio Botin said.

Profit will be “normalized,” or back to pre-crisis levels, by 2016, said Botin, in response to a question at its annual shareholders’ meeting in Santander, Spain, today.

“You can draw the conclusion without me giving you the number of what profit we expect in 2015, and above all 2016,” Botin said, adding that all board members were conscious of what the bank earned in 2008 and 2009. Santander had earnings of 8.88 billion euros ($12.2 billion) in 2008 and 8.94 billion euros the following year.

Santander’s earnings shrank from a peak of more than 9 billion euros in 2007 to 4.37 billion euros last year as provisioning costs mounted for covering Spanish asset losses. After taking charges for bad-loan provisions and writedowns of 65 billion euros in the last five years, during the financial crisis, the bank has made an “excellent” start to 2014 and is ready to seize every growth opportunity, Botin said.

“An improvement in our earnings will become evident in coming quarters,” Botin said at the meeting. “Spain is going to be one of the most positive stories in Santander’s results in the coming three years.”

Santander’s shares climbed for a fourth day, rising 1.3 percent to 6.79 euros at 2:39 p.m. in Madrid trading, extending this year’s gains to 4.4 percent.

Santander maintained a previous estimate that the bank will earn profit of 3 billion euros in 2016 from Spain, where economic recovery is “now a fact,” Botin said. Profit from the division was 478 million euros last year.

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