UBS maintains Hold rating for Bank Leumi

UBS Warburg has maintained a Hold rating for Bank Leumi (TASE: LUMI ) but lowered its earnings estimates for this year and next.

The investment bank set a 12-month price target at NIS 6.3, and reduced its earnings estimates from NIS 0.52 to NIS 0.48 per share for 2002.

For next year, the investment bank cut its forecast from NIS 0.92 to NIS 0.75 per share.

Bank Leumi yesterday reported an 80% slide in second-quarter net profit to NIS 77 million. UBS Warburg had estimated that it would net slightly under NIS 200 million, but analyst Stephen Levey had noted that several nonrecurring elements complicated the picture.

While Leumi's income from interest dropped to NIS 987 million, much of the decline was due to one-time elements such as the linkages to the consumer price index, and diving values of investments.

UBS estimates that the profit margin from interest will rise to 2.2% in 2002 and 2.3% in 2003.

Leumi's provision for doubtful debt was lower than expected, although it climbed 73% from the parallel quarter to NIS 329 million, or 0.77% of its total credit to the general public. In the first quarter its provision comprised 0.86% of its total credit. It is too soon, Levey wrote, to say whether its bad debt allowances have bottomed out.

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