(Adds details of earnings)
By Carolina Mandl
SAO PAULO, April 24 (Reuters) - Banco Santander Brasil SA beat analysts' profit estimates on Tuesday as the bank recorded another quarter of strong consumer loan book growth amid a continued gradual recovery in the economy.
The Brazilian unit of Spain's Banco Santander SA posted recurring net income of 2.859 billion reais ($823 million), up 25.4 percent from a year earlier and nearly 9 percent above the Thomson Reuters analyst consensus.
Recurring return on equity rose to 19.1 percent in the quarter, up 0.7 percentage point from the last quarter of 2017.
Chief Executive Officer Sergio Rial took the helm in 2015 with a mandate to improve Santander Brasil's return on equity and close a gap with Brazil's other private-sector banks.
Santander Brasil's loan book grew 2.9 percent in the quarter to 280.4 billion reais. Last month, Rial told journalists that Santander Brasil planned to accelerate loan book growth this year as credit demand was picking up.
Fee revenues also rose, as the bank's client base grew 9.5 percent in a year to 22.2 million consumers.
Santander Brasil posted a 2.9 percent delinquency rate in the first quarter, 0.2 percent point lower than the previous quarter, as loan-loss expenses decreased.
Brazil is the biggest market for the Santander group, and the strong performance helped the Spanish bank post a better-than-expected 10 percent rise in first-quarter profit.
$1 = 3.47 reais Reporting by Carolina Mandl Editing by Leslie Adler