Banking Sector has posted strong earnings growth in Q3-2008
The strong earnings growth posted by the listed Qatari banks in Q308 shows that banks in Qatar remained stable amid global financial crisis. Qatar banking sector with its limited exposure in the global financial markets was able to escape the severe implications of the global financial distress. The combined profits of the listed Qatari banks increased by 34.3% during the 9M period ended Sep’08 from QR6.0bn to QR8.1bn. The sector heavy-weights in terms of market capitalization, Qatar National Bank and Qatar Islamic Bank have achieved a growth of 62% and 45.7%, respectively, in their net profit for 9M08. Sector Outlook
The economy of Qatar is registering a strong growth over the last few years and on the back of this, activities are flourishing in almost every sector of the economy and banking sector would be one of the major beneficiaries of this economic boom. The region as well as the country have huge investment potential. Multi-billion-dollar projects are in the pipeline or in drawing board at various stages from various sectors apart from the hydrocarbon sector. As mentioned earlier, Qatar has launched an impressive domestic investment program aimed at diversifying its economic base from the hydrocarbon sector. The banking sector would be one of the major beneficiaries of these projects and regional diversification program. Over the last few years, banks in Qatar have extensively focused on improving their quality of assets which resulted into substantial improvement in the quality of their loan portfolio. We believe that going forward quality of the loan book are likely to remain sound, however, steep growth in loan book needs to be watched with caution. The confidence building exercise by the Qatar Central Bank should definitely restore investors’ confidence in the banking sector in particular and the stock market in general. Also, the strong performance of Qatari banks in Q308, during global financial crisis, supports our positive outlook for Qatar Banking sector for the medium term.

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