March 2, 2017 / 8:12 AM / 5 months ago

UPDATE 1-Russia's Sberbank records record 2016 profit after strong Q4

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MOSCOW, March 2 (Reuters) - Sberbank, Russia's largest bank, said on Thursday it made a record net profit of 541.9 billion roubles ($9.3 billion) last year after a strong fourth quarter that exceeded analysts' forecasts.

State-controlled Sberbank has consistently outperformed during Russia's economic crisis, increasing its dominance of the country's banking sector by winning business from rivals.

It racked up record profits despite being one of several large Russian state banks subject to Western sanctions over Moscow's role in the Ukraine conflict, something that restricts its access to international capital markets.

"Sberbank emerged from the crisis stronger than before," Sberbank CEO German Gref said in a statement.

The bank said it had made 141.8 billion roubles of net profit in the fourth quarter, versus analysts' expectations of 117 billion roubles of profit.

That was almost twice the amount of profit Sberbank made in the final three months of 2015, helped by a smaller than expected provision charge.

Sberbank's Moscow-listed shares were up 1.1 percent by 0755 GMT, versus gains of 0.4 percent for the broader MICEX stock market index.

In the fourth quarter, Sberbank's return on equity - a measure of profitability - was at 20.4 percent, little changed from the previous quarter.

Its net interest margin rose to 6.1 percent from 5.8 percent in the third quarter, while its cost of risk fell to 1.2 percent from 2.1 percent.

Sberbank holds around a third of total banking sector deposits in Russia, meaning it is less dependent on more costly central bank financing than other Russian banks.

Its pricing power on loans is also unmatched, meaning it is in a strong position to defend its market share and revenues. ($1 = 58.3986 roubles) (Reporting by Alexander Winning; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

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