OSLO, July 12 (Reuters) - Top Norwegian bank DNB reported second-quarter earnings ahead of expectations on Wednesday as lending margins rose while losses on its portfolio were significantly lower than analysts had predicted.
The company also launched a long-awaited share buy-back plan, in line with authorisation recently given by owners.
Net profit for the quarter rose by 15 percent year-on-year to 5.24 billion Norwegian crowns ($633.39 million), while analysts in a Reuters poll on average had predicted virtually flat earnings.
"There is profitable growth in all customer segments, and our customers make sure that we have lots to do across the board," Chief Executive Rune Bjerke said in a statement.
"Combined with low impairment losses during the quarter, this makes us satisfied with our second quarter performance," he added.
DNB's lending losses amounted to 597 million crowns, while the average forecast from 16 analysts stood at a loss of 1.31 billion. The bank reiterated its 2016-2018 outlook for losses and its plan to pay more than half of 2017 earnings in dividend. ($1 = 8.2729 Norwegian crowns) (Reporting by Terje Solsvik, editing by Ole Petter Skonnord)