Bigger loans help Brazil bank Itau’s earnings outclass peers

SAO PAULO (Reuters) -Latin America’s biggest bank Itau Unibanco SA on Thursday posted a recurring net profit rise of 19%, outperforming other private Brazilian lenders as a larger loan book helped it offset mounting risk of debt delinquency.

Latin America’s largest bank reported a third-quarter recurring net income of 8.08 billion reais ($1.51 billion), landing just below the 8.11 billion reais estimate of analysts polled by Refinitiv.

Analysts at XP Inc nevertheless hailed the positive results in a note to clients, pointing to a bigger loan portfolio and balanced risk management, which allowed Itau to keep its defaults in check.

Aggressive monetary tightening from Brazil’s central bank has left the benchmark interest rate at a six-year high, prompting peers Bradesco SA and Santander Brasil SA to hike provisions for customers defaulting on loans. Both posted profits down some 20%.

Itau hiked its provisions for bad loans by nearly 50% to 8.27 billion reais, though unlike its peers, it did not raise its 2022 forecast for loan-loss provisions.

“It is still unclear the reason behind this divergence,” said analysts at Citi, pointing to potential differences in underwriting and client profiles, “but Itau’s results provide much more confidence in its sustainability.”

Itau also reported a 90-day default ratio of 2.8% at the end of September, up from the previous quarter’s 2.7%, albeit at a much slower pace than its peers.

The size of its loan book surged 15.5% year-on-year to reach 1.11 trillion reais, fueled by more personal loans.

The company also reported higher income from interest it earned on customer debt. Its customer net interest income (NII) jumped 33% from a year earlier to reach 23.38 billion reais.

Finance chief Alexsandro Broedel said in a statement the quarterly results reflected “the strength and consistency of our performance over time, in the various lines of business.”

Return on equity, a gauge for profitability, edged up 0.2 percentage points from the previous quarter to 21%.

($1 = 5.3665 reais)

(Reporting by Peter Frontini; Editing by Sarah Morland and Chris Reese)