MILAN (AP) — Italian bank Intesa SanPaolo felt the impact of the European financial crisis during the second quarter as it reported a 36 percent fall in net profits.
Nonetheless the bank beat analyst expectations with €470 million ($574 million) net profit against €741 million in the same quarter of 2011. Analysts were expecting €307 million, according to financial data provider FactSet.
Intesa shares rose as much as 12.5 percent to top €1.05 in Milan trading.
CEO Enrico Cucchiani told analysts that the eurozone "seems to be in a state of confusion" but that he saw signs that the political leadership is slowly becoming aware of the "severe shortcomings in economic governance."
"It is committing to create the necessary infrastructure. That is banking union, fiscal union and finally political union," he said. "The real question mark is the sense of urgency and the execution capabilities."
Intesa will continue a strategy of low debt, high liquidity and generous provisioning to confront the "uncertain times," he said.
Second-quarter operating income was down 8.5 percent to €4.13 billion, as the bank reported lower trading profits and higher loan adjustments.
Trading profits were €161 million, which included a €94 million gain from the sale of a stake in the London Stock Exchange. That was down from €541 million in the same period of 2011, mostly derived from the sale of stakes in luxury goods maker Prada and consumer credit bank Findomestic.
For the first six months of the year, net earnings were down 9 percent to €1.27 billion.
Cucchiani said in a statement that he is satisfied with the half-year results, noting the bank's high liquidity, strong capital reserves and robust provisions against risky loans "reflect a prudent and conservative strategy."
The bank's Core Tier 1 ratio, a key measure of a bank's health, was 10.7 percent, up from 10.1 percent at the end of 2011. Loan loss provisions were €2.1 billion, up 37 percent from the first half of 2011 with a 20 percent increase in new, risky loans.
"Our bank is well positioned to support the economic development of the country and to offer a safe and trustworthy haven for Italians' savings," Cucchiani said.
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