Three top banking groups in the black

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The top three banking groups posted net profits for the six months to September as the global downturn eased, according to earnings results announced as of Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. said its consolidated net profit rose 53.2 percent, to ¥140.9 billion, in the April-September period.

In the first half of fiscal 2009, MUFG posted a group pretax profit of ¥233.05 billion, up 23.9 percent from the year before, on revenues of ¥2.62 trillion, down 10.5 percent.

The group expects to post a net profit of ¥300 billion in the full business year to March, compared with a ¥256.9 billion loss last business year.

“The worst of the financial crisis might be over,” said Masahiko Watanabe, senior director at Fitch Ratings Ltd.

Mizuho Financial Group Inc. booked a group net profit of ¥87.81 billion for the first half of fiscal 2009, down 7.1 percent from a year earlier. For the full year to next March, Mizuho forecasts a group net profit of ¥200 billion.

Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. saw its net profit surge 48.3 percent, to ¥123.54 billion, in the half-year period. For the full business year, the group forecasts a net profit of ¥220 billion.

Although the lenders are likely to meet their full-year forecasts, Watanabe said a possible slowdown in the economy early next year could weigh on earnings recoveries of banks, and that other companies’ earnings and individual investments may not drastically improve.

For this half-year period, all six major banking groups — MUFG, Mizuho, SMFG, Resona, Sumitomo Trust and Chuo Mitsui Trust — have posted net profits, which totaled ¥470 billion, up 19.5 percent from the same period last year.