UOB's net profits for October to December rose to $352 million from $290 million last year, after analysts had predicted a less dramatic increase to $316 million.
The company owes its better-than-expected figures to a combination of strong growth in loans to medium-sized and smaller businesses, charges from bank services and the health of the domestic housing market leading to higher demand for mortgages.
Commenting on the figures to Reuters, market analyst David Lum said: "One feature of this result is UOB's strong loan growth, which is well above the industry average."
Strong forecasts for the property market in 2007 suggest that the company's growth will continue this year.
UOB is estimated to be worth nearly $21 billion and competes in Singapore with Oversea Chinese Banking and DBS Group Holdings, which announced fourth-quarter profits of $225 million and $366 million respectively.