Israel Discount Bank Third-quarter Net Falls 15%

Decline smaller than forecast as credit-loss charges fall sharply.

Ofer Vaknin

REUTERS - Israel Discount Bank, the country’s third-largest lender, on Thursday reported a smaller-than-expected 15% drop in profit in the third quarter as credit-loss charges fell sharply and expenses narrowed.

The bank said it earned 234 million shekels ($61 million) in the three months, down from 276 million shekels in the year-earlier period but above an average forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts for 201 million shekels.

Excluding a special provision for an early retirement scheme, the bank earned 254 million shekels.

“The results reflect the continued strengthening of our capital base beyond regulatory requirements and a continued improvement in the quality of our credit portfolio, including growth in retail credit, since the beginning of the year,” said CEO Lilach Asher-Topilski.

Discount shares closed 1.5% higher at 6.02 shekels in Tel Aviv Stock Exchange trading Thursday. It was the second major bank to report its third-quarter results after First International Bank of Israel, the country’s fifth-largest lender, reported a 1.4% rise in quarterly profit on Wednesday, boosted by a recovery in credit-loss charges.

In August Discount said it would eliminate over 1,000 jobs in the coming years out of a total of 9,800, mostly via early retirement. The bank said it is in the process of offering early retirement to 250 workers.

Net interest income fell 3% to 1.06 billion shekels, while operating expenses slipped 0.7%. Credit-loss charges fell to 40 million shekels in the quarter, from 171 million shekels a year ago.

Discount said its core Tier 1 ratio, which measures equity capital as a proportion of risk-weighted assets, rose to 9.3% from 8.9% at the start of the year.