Mumbai: Axis Bank Ltd on Monday reported a 25.3% increase in its fiscal-third quarter profit as the bank provided lower provisions against its bad loans.

Net profit rose to Rs726.44 crore for the quarter ended 31 December from Rs579.57 crore a year ago. According to 16 Bloomberg analysts’ estimates, the bank was expected to post a net profit of Rs818.70 crore.

Net interest income (NII) or the core income a bank earns by giving loans was up 9.18% to Rs4,731.52 crore compared with Rs4,333.73 crore last year. Other income was at Rs2,593.08 crore, down 23.74% from Rs3,400.21 crore a year ago.

Provisions and contingencies fell 26% to Rs2,811.04 crore from Rs3,795.80 crore a year ago. On quarter-on-quarter basis, it fell 10.49% from Rs3,140.41 crore.

Gross non-performing assets (NPAs) rose 22.15% to Rs25,000.51 crore at the end of the December quarter from Rs20,466.82 crore in the same quarter last year.

As a percentage of total loans, gross NPAs stood at 5.28% as compared to 5.90% in the previous quarter and 5.22% in the year-ago quarter. Net NPAs were at 2.56% in the December quarter compared to 3.12% in the previous quarter and 2.18% in the same quarter last year.

Gross NPA additions declined 50.5% to Rs4,428 crore. The bank said that corporate slippages stood at Rs2,980 crore and 93% of its came from low-rated BB and below accounts.

Recoveries and upgrades were at Rs4,008 crore, while write-offs during the quarter was at Rs2,822 crore.

“During the quarter bank recovered substantial amount in cash from an IT/ITES account and also upgraded one account in the Steel Sector. These two accounts were part of the nine accounts that were reclassified as NPA by the Bank in second quarter of fiscal year 2018," it said in a notice to the BSE.

Its total loan amount outstanding against IBC accounts and watchlist stood at Rs6,074 crore and Rs5,309 crore, down 14% and 12%, respectively, from its previous quarter.

Advances rose 21.24% from a year ago to Rs4.21 trillion. Deposits rose 10.3% to Rs3.71 trillion. The bank said its credit cost for the quarter and first nine months of this fiscal stood at 233 basis points and 250 bps and it continues to retain its credit cost guidance for fiscal 2018 in the range of 220-260 bps. One bps is a one-hundredth of a percentage point.

At 2.19pm, Axis Bank was trading at Rs615.70 on the BSE, up 4.31% from previous its close, while benchmark Sensex index rose 0.62% to 35,730.89 points.