Scotiabank hikes dividend amid solid earnings as international banking focus pays off

TORONTO — The Bank of Nova Scotia raised its dividend Tuesday as it reported better-than-expected adjusted profit of roughly $2.275 billion for its first quarter, with strong earnings internationally as well as at home.Scotiabank increased its quarterly payment to common shareholders by three cents per share to 82 cents per share, the third of the big Canadian banks to do so this quarter after CIBC and Royal Bank.On an adjusted basis, Canada’s third-largest lender reported $1.87 earnings per diluted share, up from to $1.58 per diluted share a year ago and higher than the $1.68 per share expected by analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.Wealth-hungry Scotiabank to buy investment manager Jarislowsky Fraser for $950MCanadian banks raise prime lending rate to 3.45% in wake of Bank of Canada hikeA year earlier, Scotiabank’s adjusted profit attributable to shareholders was $1.946 billion or $1.58 per diluted share.“All of our businesses delivered strong results, contributing to solid top line growth and a continued improvement in efficiency…. We are pleased with our strong start to the year,” said Brian Porter, Scotiabank’s president and chief executive, in a statement.The lender’s Canadian banking division reported net income attributable to shareholders of $1.1 billion, up 12 per cent compared to the same period a year earlier.Scotiabank’s Canadian residential mortgage portfolio was $208 billion, up roughly 6.7 per cent from $195 billion a year earlier. For comparison, the bank saw 2.6 per cent growth in its domestic residential mortgage portfolio in the fiscal first quarter of 2017, up from $190 billion in the first quarter of 2016.The Canadian banks’ mortgage portfolios are being closely watched for any impact from new stiffer rules for uninsured mortgages introduced on Jan. 1. The revised underwriting guidelines require would-be homebuyers with a 20 per cent down payment or larger to prove they can continue to make their mortgage payments if interest rates rise. Banking executives have signalled that these new rules could act as a headwind to the business. CIBC and RBC executives said last week that it is too early to tell what impact the new rules have had thus far.Meanwhile, earnings attributable to shareholders in Scotiabank’s international banking division was up 16 per cent year-over-year to $667 million, as Scotiabank continues to focus its expansion efforts on the Pacific Alliance countries of Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru.“The strong momentum in our business was driven by double-digit growth in loans in the Pacific Alliance countries, positive operating leverage and good credit quality,” Porter said in a statement.Its global banking and markets division, however, reported net income attributable to shareholders of $454 million, marking a decrease of $15 million or three per cent from the same period a year earlier.The bank’s common equity tier 1 ratio (CET1), a key measure of financial health, was 11.2 per cent, down from 11.3 per cent a year ago and 11.5 per cent in the previous quarter.Scotiabank’s provisions for credit losses, or money set aside for bad loans, dropped slightly in the latest quarter to $544 million, compared with $553 million a year earlier. However, this quarter was the first to reflect a new accounting standard, known as IFRS 9. The new standards puts a greater emphasis on a banks’ expected losses over the life of the loan, and in turn, introduces more volatility to the measure. read more