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Thursday, 08/02/2012 11:10:14 AM

Thursday, August 02, 2012 11:10:14 AM

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July 31, 2012, 3:00 a.m. EDT
BBVA net profit drops 58% as provisions soar

By Christopher Bjork

MarketWatch/Tim Rostan
A BBVA bank location in Madrid. The bank reported a sharp profit drop Tuesday as it had to set aside billions of euros to cover property-related losses.
MADRID--Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA (BBVA) Tuesday became the latest in a long list of Spanish banks to report that second-quarter earnings were dented by its need to set aside billions of euros to cover losses from the country’s deepening real-estate crisis.

The bank BBVA -10.40% ES:BBVA -4.58% , the country’s second-largest by assets, said net profit was 505 million euros ($620 million), down 58% compared with EUR1.19 billion in the same period a year earlier.

Net interest income, which was boosted by robust lending growth in Mexico and other Latin American countries, rose 16% to EUR3.74 billion, the bank said.

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Analysts were expecting profit at EUR643 million and net interest income of EUR3.64 billion, according to a Dow Jones Newswires survey of eight brokers.

Like its larger rival Banco Santander SA (SAN), BBVA benefits from the strength of its big network of branches in Latin American countries like Colombia and Peru to help pay for loan losses in Spain, where they contend with economic turmoil and the continued need to bolster their provisioning buffers.

Since the beginning of the year, the Spanish government twice raised the amount of provisions and capital banks must hold to cover property-related losses, an attempt to remove investor concerns about the hidden losses on bank balance sheets.

BBVA said it had set aside EUR1.43 billion in such provisions, roughly a third of the EUR4.64 billion the bank needs to set aside this year.

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