WARSAW, March 20 (Reuters) - Pekao, Poland's No.2 lender, beat forecasts with a 20 percent rise in quarterly net profit, thanks to lower provisions for bad loans and continued growth from interest-bearing products.
Pekao, a unit of Italian group UniCredit, posted a fourth-quarter net profit of 771 million zlotys ($248 million), compared with a forecast for 742 million in a Reuters poll in which estimates were in a 692-764 million range.
Provisions for soured loans stood at 131 million zlotys, 11 million less than forecast.
"Generally the results are neutral. Fee income is weaker, but that is in line with the trend from other banks," PKO BP analyst Jaromir Szortyka said on Tuesday. "Provisions are a plus, which is what boosted the result."
Shares in Pekao, one of Poland's more conservative lenders, have slightly underperformed peers this year, with an 8 percent rise.
The bank, under pressure from the Polish financial watchdog for a cautious dividend policy, said it had not decided how much it would pay out to shareholders.
Its full-year net profit was 2.9 billion zlotys. ($1 = 3.1045 zlotys) (Reporting by Marcin Goclowski and Adrian Krajewski; Editing by Dan Lalor)