April 21, 2018 / 1:03 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-India's HDFC Bank net profit hits record despite bad loan rise

* Net profit 47.99 bln rupees vs 48.43 bln estimate

* Gross bad loan ratio 1.3 pct vs 1.29 pct in Dec (Adds details on results)

MUMBAI, April 21 (Reuters) - Fourth-quarter net profit at HDFC Bank Ltd slightly missed estimates as a result of higher bad loans, although it still rose by about a fifth to a record on Saturday.

Net profit rose by 20.3 percent from a year earlier to 47.99 billion rupees ($725 million) in the three months ended March 31, India’s second-biggest Indian lender by assets said, compared with analysts’ estimates of 48.43 billion rupees.

With its focus on retail customers and relatively lower exposure to project finance, HDFC Bank is an investor favourite among India’s leading banks ,most of which have been hurt by a surge in soured assets in the past three years.

The bank, which has the highest market capitalisation of $77 billion among Indian banks, had the lowest soured-asset ratio in the sector as of end-December.

However, as of end-March, its gross non-performing loans as a percentage of total loans had risen to 1.3 percent from 1.29 percent three months earlier, and compared with 1.05 percent a year earlier.

The ratio of net non-performing loans, however, narrowed to 0.4 percent at end-March, from 0.44 percent three months earlier.

By comparison, analysts expect overall banking sector bad loans to have surged in the March quarter after the central bank came up with stricter rules here

HDFC Bank’s loans as of end-March grew 18.7 percent from a year earlier. Retail loans within that grew 27.4 percent, while wholesale loans grew 9.4 percent.

Net interest income rose 17.7 percent for the fourth quarter, while non-interest revenue grew 22.7 percent, the bank said. Net interest margin was steady at 4.3 percent.

To fund its future growth, the bank has said it plans to raise up to 240 billion rupees by selling shares to investors, including a preferential issue to its parent HDFC Ltd . ($1 = 66.2000 Indian rupees) (Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy, Abhirup Roy, and Vishal Sridhar; Editing by Andrew Bolton and Alexander Smith)

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