(Adds share price, bank’s loan book, earnings per share, sector outlook)
BUENOS AIRES, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Argentine financial conglomerate Grupo Financiero Galicia S.A. on Friday posted a 41 percent jump in fourth quarter net profit of 1.24 billion pesos ($94.66 million), sending its shares up 2 percent.
That brought the company’s 2015 annual net profit to 4.34 billion pesos, 30 percent up on the previous year, representing an increase that was broadly in line with inflation.
The company controls Banco Galicia Y Buenos Aires, Argentina’s largest domestic private bank by loans and deposits. The bank reported a 47 percent increase in its fourth quarter loan book to 101.90 billion pesos, with non-performing debt edging lower.
Shares of Grupo Galicia were up 2 percent at 40.60 pesos.
Lending in Argentina’s banking sector gained momentum last year because of incentives former leftist President Cristina Fernandez implemented to spur consumer demand. Even so, private lending remains far below levels before the country’s 2001-2002 depression and lags countries like Brazil, Chile and Peru.
Argentine banks, however, are gearing up for a potential lending boom should newly elected President Mauricio Macri resolve the country’s debt battle with foreign creditors and free-market reforms to lure new investment take root.
The group said 2015 earnings per share increased to 3.34 pesos from 2.57 pesos in the preceding year.
The government estimates inflation was 28 percent last year.
$1=13.10 pesos at 2015 year-end. Reporting by Buenos Aires newsroom; writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Lisa Von Ahn and W Simon