Santander says second quarter profit down 8.0 percent

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Santander, Spain's biggest bank, said Thursday its second quarter net profit fell nearly 8.0 percent to 2.23 billion euros as weakness in its domestic market offset solid growth in Latin America.

Analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires had expected an average second quarter net profit at Europe's second-largest bank of 2.25 billion euros (2.93 billion dollars).

The results brought Santander's first-half net profit to 4.44 billion euros, a 1.6 percent decrease over last year.

Santander chairman Emilio Botin said his bank was on track for a full-year profit similar to the 8.94 billion euros it recorded in 2009.

"This is possible thanks to our balance sheet strength and geographical diversification," he said in a statement.

Bad debt as a percentage of total loans increased to 3.37 percent in the second quarter from 3.34 percent in the first, the smallest rise since the global financial crisis began in the 2007, the bank said.

In second quarter 2009, its non-performing loan ratio was 2.82 percent.

The non-performing loan ratio in Spain, which is struggling to shake off its worst recession in decades, stood at 3.71 percent at the end of June, "well below" the average of 5.47 percent for the entire sector.

Continental Europe accounted for 43 percent of the bank's first-half net profit, Britain accounted for 17 percent and Latin America 37 percent, with 22 percent coming from Brazil alone.

© 2010 AFP

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