Dutch bank and insurer ING Groep N.V. had a nice surprise for investors in its latest earnings release: a 14% gain in profit driven by a strong performance by its South American insurance unit and a rebound in its investment banking division. By the numbers, net earnings came in at €2.1 billion ($2.76 billion), up from €1.84 billion a year earlier; consensus analyst estimates were for a net profit of €1.61 billion. ING Executive Board Chairman Michel Tilmant said that "the interest margin stabilized in the fourth quarter [leading to a recovery in our investment banking business]... our diversity works well in difficult markets." SNS Securities Jacob Bosscha cautioned that ING's results were helped by a low tax rate but added that ING's underlying performance, especially in wholesale and retail banking, were strong.
Sources: Press Release, Wall Street, Bloomberg, Reuters
Commentary: Cramer's Take on ING • Barron's Euro Dogs of the Dow 2007
Stocks/ETFs to watch: ING Group N.V. (ING). Competitors: AEGON N.V. (AEG), Allianz SE (AZ), AXA (AXA), ABN AMRO Holding N.V. (ABN). ETFs: iShares MSCI EMU Index (EZU), iShares MSCI Netherlands Index Fund (EWN), DJ Euro Stoxx 50 ETF (FEZ)
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