* QNB up on strong Q1 results, double-digit loan growth
* Saudi SABB up on in-line Q1 profit, positive spillover to
* Dubai Islamic Bank up again after positive Q1 results
* Abu Dhabi's Union National Bank jumps on Q1 earnings beat
By Celine Aswad
DUBAI, April 12 Generally positive first-quarter
results from Gulf banks helped lift financial stocks on
Wednesday, while Saudi Arabia's third-largest telecoms operator
jumped by its daily limit after reporting its first ever
quarterly net profit.
Shares in Qatar National Bank, the largest lender
by assets in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), rose 1 percent
after it announced net profit of 3.2 billion riyals ($879
million) for the three months to March 31, up 12 percent from
the prior year period and beating Arqaam Capital analysts'
forecast of 3.0 billion riyals.
Loan growth was up 33 percent year on year to 536 billion
riyals, while customer deposits rose by 34 percent to 541
Its peers that trade on Doha's exchange were also
strong, with Commercial Bank climbing 2.4 percent. The
index gained 0.7 percent.
In Saudi Arabia, banking shares were also robust with all
but one of the 12 lenders advancing. Confidence in the sector
was lifted after Saudi British Bank reported earnings
that were broadly in line with estimates. Its shares closed 2.3
The lender made a first quarter net profit of 1.04 billion
riyals, down 9.3 percent from the year-ago period. SABB
attributed the fall in net profit to higher operating expenses,
but said it was partially offset by a 1.6 percent increase in
Shares in telecommunications operator Zain Saudi
jumped 10 percent to 10.05 riyals in their opening minutes of
trade after the company made its first ever quarterly net profit
since listing in 2008, of 45 million Saudi riyals. That compared
to a loss of 249.7 million in the prior-year period, and beat
analysts' estimate of a loss of 104 million riyals.
Zain Saudi's sales rose 9 percent to 1.92 billion riyals.
Analysts at NCB Capital attributed the surprisingly positive
result to strong top-line growth, a record-high gross margin of
67.3 percent, and lower-than-expected depreciation and financing
"We are currently Neutral on the stock with a price of 7.6
riyals. If we annualize the results of this quarter, the stock
is trading at a price-to-equity of 31.2 times, significantly
higher than the regional average of 16 times. Positive results,
(the) tower sale are expected to continue to drive the stock
going forward," NCB Capital said.
The positive mood spilled into the shares of its chief
competitors, Saudi Telecom Co and Etihad Etisalat
, with the former adding 1.8 percent and the latter
jumping 7.1 percent.
Riyadh's index rose 0.9 percent in the highest daily
traded volume in a month. But shares of the largest listed
stock, Saudi Basic Industries fell 1.2 percent as they
went ex-dividend on Wednesday.
Elsewhere, Dubai Islamic Bank extended its prior
session gains to add 1.7 percent; on Tuesday the lender reported
a 4 percent rise in first quarter results. The index on which it
trades,, gained 0.2 percent on Wednesday.
In neighbouring Abu Dhabi, Union National Bank
surged 6.4 percent after the company reported first quarter
results that came ahead of analysts' expectations.
The lender made a net profit of 452 million dirhams ($123.06
million); three analysts polled by Reuters forecast a quarterly
average profit of 443.62 million dirhams and this compares to a
net profit of 450 million dirhams in the year earlier period.
UNB's loans and advances grew 8 percent from the first
quarter 2016 and customer deposits rose by 5 percent.
The index, however, fell 0.2 percent.
In Egypt, the index fell 0.1 percent in very thin
volume, as the majority of investors stayed clear of the market
in light of heightened domestic political risk.
Egypt's parliament on Tuesday unanimously approved a
three-month state of emergency, days after two church bombings
killed at least 45 people.
Utility company El Sewedy Electric dropped 4.0
percent despite reporting a tripling in its full year 2016 net
profit to 3.95 billion Egyptian pounds ($217.87 million). The
floatation of the currency in November had a positive impact of
1.31 billion pounds, the company said.
El Sewedy's board also approved plans to convert some of its
shares to Global Depository Receipts (GDR) and to establish two
new companies; one to operate in real estate development and the
other in insurance brokerage.
The company also seeks to reduce its capital by 5 million
pounds to 2.18 billion pounds by writing off 5 million treasury
* The index rose 0.9 percent to 7,099 points.
* The index added 0.2 percent to 3,541 points.
* The index declined 0.2 percent to 4,555 points.
* The index climbed 0.7 percent to 10,489 points.
* The index added 0.2 percent to 7,042 points.
* The index edged down 0.1 percent to 12,984
* The index edged up 0.1 percent to 5,557 points.
* The index fell 0.4 percent to 1,357 points.
($1 = 3.6730 UAE dirham)
($1 = 18.1300 Egyptian pounds)
(Editing by Susan Fenton)