Qatar National Bank Boosts Dividend After Net Misses Estimates

Qatar National Bank SAQ, the largest bank in the Middle East by assets, raised its dividend to 6 riyals a share as 2012 fiscal-year profit missed estimates.

The bank’s board recommended a cash dividend equal to 60 percent of the nominal share value, the lender said in an e-mailed release. The bank paid a dividend of 40 percent of share value in 2011 plus bonus shares of 10 percent. Full-year profit rose 11 percent to 8.3 billion riyals, the bank said. The mean estimate of 10 analysts was for a fiscal-year profit of 8.45 billion riyals, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Their were “no major surprises except sharp dividend hike,” Jaap Meijer, director of equity research at Dubai-based Arqaam Capital Ltd., said today in an e-mailed note to investors. The increased dividend was “well ahead” of their forecast for payment of 4.64 riyals a share, he wrote.

Qatar National Bank, majority owned by the government, is expanding overseas amid an economic slowdown at home. The lender is set to become the first Middle East bank with assets over $100 billion after agreeing to buy 77 percent of Societe Generale SA’s Egypt unit for $1.97 billion last month. The bank is looking for a majority stake in one of Turkey’s top ten banks, Chief Financial Officer Ramzi Mari said Dec. 13. The lender received approval this month to open an office in China.

Qatar National fell 1.7 percent to 138 riyals, the biggest decline in more than a year, on the Qatar Exchange today before results were released.

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