Brazil’s three biggest banks suffered a dent in their profits in 2020, but managed to stay afloat amid the pandemic and reportedly beat market estimates in the fourth quarter.
An analysis of their financial statements shows profits of Bradesco, Santander Brasil, and Itaú Unibanco plunging by 25 percent, 4.8 percent and 28.9 percent, respectively. Despite being in stark contrast to their record profits in 2019, the banks managed to finish the fourth quarter in the black, thanks to a recovery propelled by cost-cutting programs and overall economic improvements.
Bradesco saw its credit portfolio grow 10.3 percent in 2020, to BRL 687 billion. Santander, meanwhile, saw defaults fall from 2.9 percent in 2019 to 2.1 percent one year later, in what the bank attributed to a strategy of extending debts to make payments easier.
The exception on the recovery path seems to be Itaú, as South America’s biggest bank did not manage to boost profits in the fourth quarter and expects a rough year ahead.Support this coverage →