Banco Santander SA the largest lender in Spain said its profit increased 68% during the fourth quarter as fewer provisions were set aside for bad loans and the bank’s revenue grew.

Net income was up to $1.7 billion or 1.46 billion euros during the quarter from the same quarter a year ago of 864 million euros.

These results met the expectations of analysts. The bank makes profit of 14% in its home market and had tapped shareholders last month for 7.5 billion euros as well as cutting its dividend seeking to allay concerns of investors about the balance sheet strength of the bank.

Santander has counted on the economic recovery of Spain to increase profit as its bank in the UK continues to drive its growth in earnings while sluggish growth in Brazil threatens to eat away profit.

Santander share price was up 2% in early trading in Madrid paring the decline for the year to only 14%, while the STOXX Europe 600 benchmark index is up 0.5% over the same period.

There were positives that were expected such as an improvement of loans in Spain and others that were surprising such as better loan book value.

During the fourth quarter, bank provisions for loans that are non-performing dropped to 2.5 billion euros from over 2.8 billion from the same period the prior year.

Bad loans as a proportion of all lending at the bank dropped from 5.3% to 5.2%.

Net income in the Brazil unit, which represents 19% of the profit in the group, was up 30% during the fourth quarter, in comparison with the same period one year ago.

The trend for the UK and Spain units was weaker than had been expected. Profit in the home market of Santander’s tripled during the quarter and in the UK was up 9.5%.

Net interest income, which is revenue from the difference between the interest charged by the bank and what it pays for funding, was up to 7.7 billion euros.