The Bank of Montreal (TSX:BMO) has reported a big increase in quarterly and annual profit, beating analyst estimates by a wide margin.
For the fourth quarter ended Oct. 31, BMO had a $1.08-billion profit in the fourth quarter, a 41 per cent increase over the same time last year. That amounted to $1.59 per share of net earnings before adjustments.
The bank's adjusted earnings amounted to $1.65 per share, 22 cents a share above the consensus analyst estimate.
BMO' revenue in the fourth quarter from all business segments totalled $4.18 billion, including about $2.3 billion from its personal and commercial banking, up from $3.82 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Analysts had been expecting $1.37 per share of net income and $1.43 per share on an adjusted basis for the fourth quarter, according to estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters. The quarterly revenue estimate had been $3.8 billion.
"BMO's fourth quarter results mark a strong finish to a pivotal year for the bank," said Bill Downe, BMO's president and chief executive officer.
Downe noted that BMO's U.S subsidiary, BMO Harris Bank, had completed the integration on a major acquisition that increased its presence in the U.S. Midwest and kept an eye on the bottom line by reducing staffing levels.
"During the year we increased the dividend and grew net loans and acceptances by 7.4 per cent and deposits by 7.1 per cent. A concerted focus on efficiency was reflected in a reduction of 700 full-time employees," Downe said.
The quarter brought Bank of Montreal's total net income for the 2012 financial year to $4.19 billion, up 35 per cent from last year.
Revenue for the full 2012 financial year increased to $16.1 billion from $13.9 billion in annual revenue last year.
In the third quarter, the bank announced plans to close 24 of its U.S. BMO Harris bank branches in the U.S. Midwest, as an effort to scale back on overlapping branches after the acquisition of Marshall & Isley, also known as M&I.
Bank of Montreal is involved in retail banking, wealth management and investment banking across Canada, as well as the Chicago-based Harris Bank.
There had been some concern that BMO, which provides reinsurance to property insurers, would see it's fourth-quarter affected by Superstorm Sandy in October. The storm all but shut down the New York City area and brought heavy rains, strong wind and high waves in parts of Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes.
BMO was also one of the Canadian banks that was put under review by Moody's Investors Services, which rates the credit of governments, public sector institutions and corporations. Moody's said the review was prompted by concerns about consumer debt levels and home prices in Canada, where the banking sector is the major source of mortgage lending.