Italy's top bank, UniCredit, reported on Friday a first-quarter 50.9-percent profit drop to 449 million euros ($594 million) from the figure at the same time last year but the result was better than expected.
Analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires had expected profits of 128 million euros and the figure was an improvement on the fourth quarter when it suffered a net loss of 553 million euros.
"This satisfactory performance was thanks to increasing revenues, normalised loan loss provisions, a buoyant trading income and the continuous implementation of the strategic plan actions," chief executive Federico Ghizzoni said.
"The bulk of the growth of net profit took place in Western Europe. In Italy, for the second quarter in a row, the new flows to impaired loans decreased," Ghizzoni said in a statement.
Impaired loans in Italy went down for the second quarter in a row to a level lower than that of the first quarter of 2012.
The bank also said its Core Tier 1 capital was 11.03 percent -- a 19 basis point increase from its level in December 2012.