Santander achieves record profit in 2022, but provisions increase

Santander will return half of its profits to shareholders in its three-year strategy

Spanish bank Santander said on Thursday its 2022 net profit rose 18 percent to a record 9.605 billion euros ($10.600 billion), thanks to increased lending, though results were overshadowed in the fourth quarter as provisions more than doubled due to economic uncertainty.

The euro zone’s second-largest bank by market value posted a net profit of 2.290 billion euros ($2.520 billion) between October and December, up about 1 percent from a year earlier and above the 2.070 billion euros forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll.

Net profit in 2022 – which exceeded analysts’ forecast €9.390 billion – was driven by rising interest rates and revenues, the addition of 7 million new customers to its global customer base and strong results from its corporate banking and investment unit.

In the fourth quarter, however, provisions for insolvencies increased by 106% year-on-year to €3,018 million, mainly in the United States and Brazil, although they were slightly below analysts’ forecast of €3,080 million.

Santander said in a statement that the additional provisions were due to the “updating of macroeconomic forecasts (…) given the economic uncertainty.”

The bank’s cost of risk — the cost of managing credit risks and potential losses — rose to 99 basis points from 86 basis points at the end of September, still below the 100 basis points forecast for the year.

By 2023, the bank expects the cost of risk to increase but remain below 120 basis points.

At the beginning of the year, Héctor Grisi became CEO of the bank to oversee the digital transformation of the entity in a context of economic uncertainty that affects the entire sector.

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Banks across Europe are starting to benefit from rising borrowing costs.

Net interest income, i.e. profits on loans minus deposit costs, increased by 17% year-on-year to €10,159 million in the fourth quarter, in line with the €10.150 billion forecast by analysts, thanks to higher interest rates.

For the year as a whole, net interest income grew by 16%.

(1 dollar = 0.9074 euros)

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