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HDFC Bank Q4 net profit up 23pc

HDFC Bank, India’s third-biggest lender by assets, said its quarterly net profit rose 23 per cent, the slowest growth in a more than a decade and slightly lower than estimates, as a weaker economy put the brakes on lending.

The Mumbai-based bank said net profit rose to Rs. 2,327 crore for the fiscal fourth quarter ending March from Rs. 1,890 crore in the same year-ago period. Analysts had on average forecast a net profit of Rs. 2,391 crore.

India’s economic growth has almost halved to below 5 per cent in the past two years on weak investments and consumer demand, the worst slowdown for the south Asian nation since the 1980s.

This has led to a decline in credit and a rise in bad debts, factors which analysts expect will weigh on the profitability of the banking sector this fiscal year.

HDFC, which has outperformed rivals with consistently high profit growth of about 30 per cent and stable asset quality, has seen profit growth weaken in the past three quarters as loans and fee incomes grew at a slower pace.

Net interest income, the difference between interest earned and paid out, rose 15.3 per cent to Rs. 4,953 crore in the three months to March, the bank said on Tuesday.

Asset quality remained stable with non-performing loans as a percentage of total assets at 0.3 per cent. Net interest margin for the quarter was at 4.4 per cent.

Shares in HDFC Bank, valued at more than $28 billion, were up 1.3 per cent at 3:02 p.m. The stock is 9.3 per cent higher so far this year, underperforming a 14 per cent rise in the Bank Nifty, but outperforming the 8 per cent rise in the main market index.

HDFC Bank’s 12-month forward price-to-book ratio is estimated to be the highest among 166 large and mid cap banks in Asia Pacific, according to StarMine SmartEstimates, which emphasises recent forecasts by top-rated analysts.

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