TEL AVIV, March 20 (Reuters) - First International Bank of Israel (FIBI), the country's fifth-largest bank, reported a 26 percent drop in fourth quarter profit on Wednesday after year-earlier earnings were boosted by a one-time lower tax expense.
FIBI posted a fourth-quarter net profit of 132 million shekels ($35.8 million) compared with 178 million a year earlier.
The lower tax expense in 2011 was due to legislation to amend the tax burden.
Net interest income and non-interest financing income edged up 0.8 percent to 593 million shekels.
The bank increased its expenses on credit losses to 49 million shekels in the quarter "for reasons of conservatism and with due regard for the state of the economy", the bank said.
FIBI's Tier 1 capital ratio increased to 9.65 percent from 8.46 percent at the end of 2011.
"Despite the downturn notable in the local and worldwide economies in 2012, the First International Bank ... continues to present one of the highest rates of financial resilience in the system, as apparent from the highest Tier 1 capital ratio among the five largest banks, high liquidity ratios and from its quality and diversified asset portfolio," said the bank's chief executive, Smadar Barber-Tsadik.
$1 = 3.69 shekels Reporting by Tova Cohen