Commerzbank (CRZBY)  posted stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings on Thursday and showed a modest improvement on its balance sheet, even as low interest rates continue to hold down profitability.

Net profit at Germany's second-biggest bank came in at €183 million ($196 million) for the three months ending in December, the company said, firmly ahead of the €154 million anticipated by analysts. Full-year operating profit was pegged at €1.4 billion, and €337 million for the quarter, the company said, on full-year revenue of €9.4 billion.

The bank's CET1 ratio, a key measure of financial strength, improved by 30 basis points to 12.3% at the end of 2016, the company said.