Narrow loan margins mar Canada bank profit gains
Profit at BMO, Canada's fourth-largest bank, was boosted by a doubling of wholesale banking income and a gain on U.S. Loans that had previously been written down. BMO acquired Wisconsin
lender Marshall and Illsley (M&I) last year, more than doubling the branch count of its U.S. midwest bank. But the performance was marred by narrower interest margins on BMO's retail lending businesses, which drew attention in a
lending climate that analysts expect to slow due to a softening Canadian housing market.
BMO, the second of Canada's "big five" banks to report year-end results, earned C$1.1 billion ($1.11 billion), or C$1.59 a share in the fourth quarter ended Oct 31. That compared with a year-earlier profit of C$768 million, or C$1.11 a share.
Adjusted profit was C$1.65 a share, well ahead of analysts' expectations of a C$1.43 per share profit. "It was a sizeable beat, but when you scratch below the
surface you're looking for sources of earnings that you can feel confident can be replicated into the future and we didn't see too much of that," said Brad Smith, an analyst at Stonecap Securities.
The bank's shares ended the session up 0.6 percent at C$59.63, only slightly outperforming its Toronto-listed Canadian rivals, even as the bank said it planned to buy back up to 2.3
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