From January to March, the bank posted a net profit of €627 million ($826 million) compared to €687 million in the first quarter of 2008, a fall in profits of almost nine percent.
Analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast Nordea profits to drop by 30 percent to €484 million and credit defaults to be closer to €363 million.
“The worsening of the macroeconomic trends has however increased uncertainty for loan losses for the remaining part of the year,” Nordea’s quarterly report said.
Loan losses, a useful indicator of how the economic downturn is impacting on banks and financial institutions, amounted to €356 million.
That compares to €320 million in the previous quarter and €21 million in the first quarter of 2008.
“Higher loan losses are inevitable when the economy is contracting at an unprecedented speed,” said Nordea’s chief executive Christian Paulsen in a statement.
Nordea said its outlook for 2009 remained unchanged and that its profits for the full year would be “at approximately the same level as in 2008.”
The bank posted a €2.67 billion net profit last year.
At 0820 GMT on the Stockholm exchange, the price of Nordea shares were up 5.25 percent to 56.10 kronor in a market up by 1.24 percent.