(Adds context, credit growth)
SAO PAULO, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Banco Santander Brasil SA beat analysts' fourth-quarter earnings estimates as the bank quickly expanded its loan book in higher-margin segments including consumer financing, amid signs of recovery in Latin America's largest economy.
The Brazilian unit of Spain's Banco Santander SA posted an 18.3 percent recurring return on equity (ROE), above a 17.1 percent Thomson Reuters consensus.
Recurring net income, which excludes one-time items, grew 38 percent from a year earlier to 2.752 billion reais ($865 million), above the average of analysts' estimates of 2.6 billion reais.
The bank's loan book grew 3.6 percent in the quarter to 272.562 billion reais. Compared to a year earlier, the loan book grew more than 6 percent, driven by roughly 20 percent growth in credit to individuals.
Loan-loss provisions totaled 2.6 billion reais in the quarter, down 0.9 percent from a year earlier. Santander Brasil's 90-day loan delinquency ratio rose 0.3 percentage point to 3.2 percent in the quarter due to a single, undisclosed corporate client.
$1 = 3.18 reais Reporting by Carolina Mandl; Editing by David Gregorio and Sandra Maler