By George Georgiopoulos
ATHENS (Reuters) - Piraeus Bank, Greece's fourth-largest lender by market value, on Friday reported strong nine-month 2022 net earnings after a loss in the same period a year earlier on higher fee and net interest income and lower loan impairment provisions.
The bank reported net earnings of 729 million euros ($746.86 million) after a loss of 3.085 billion euros in the nine-month period in 2021.
Net earnings in the third quarter grew to 116 million euros from 92 million in the second quarter.
"In clear contrast to European peers, Greece remains on a path of economic expansion into 2023 and beyond," said Chief Executive Christos Megalou. "We are upgrading our full-year 2022 guidance to a 9% return over tangible book from 8% previously."
Piraeus Bank generated 0.28 euros of earnings per share in the nine-month period and expects to outperform its previous 0.35 euro full-year 2022 guidance, he said.
The bank's book of so-called non-performing exposures (NPEs)continued to shrink and is heading to a ratio below 8% at year-end 2022 from 9% in the third quarter.
Its performing-loans portfolio expanded by 800 million euros in the third quarter and by 2.3 billion in the nine-month period, topping a revised annual target of 2.0 billion euros.
Net interest income grew 8% quarter-on-quarter to 331 million euros, driven by its loan and bond portfolios, without accrual benefits from the European Central Bank's TLTRO programme, it said.
Likewise, net fee income rose 12% year-on-year in the nine-month period thanks to new loan originations and bancassurance.
The bank forecast that its core equity Tier 1 capital ratio will top 11% by the end of the year, raising a previous estimate of 10%-11% thanks to accelerated organic capital generation.
($1 = 0.9761 euros)
(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)