Updated: Bank of Montreal Q4 profit slips due to hurricanes, raises dividend

BMO

Bank of Montreal raised its quarterly dividend as it reported its fourth-quarter profit slipped compared with a year ago, hurt by reinsurance claims related to hurricanes Irma, Maria and Harvey.

The bank said Tuesday it will now pay a quarterly dividend of 93 cents per share, up three cents from the previous quarter.

The increase in the payment to shareholders came as BMO reported its fourth-quarter net income fell to $1.23 billion or $1.81 per share, down from $1.35 billion or $2.02 per share a year ago.

BMO said the quarter included increased reinsurance claims of $112 million largely related to the hurricanes, as well as the impact of a weaker U.S. dollar and a $41-million after-tax restructuring charge.

Revenue for the three months ended Oct. 31 totalled $5.66 billion, up from $5.28 billion.

On an adjusted basis, BMO said it earned $1.31 billion or $1.94 per share, down from nearly $1.4 billion or $2.10 per share a year ago.

Analysts on average had expected a profit of $1.99 per share, according to Thomson Reuters.

Barclays analyst John Aiken said the bank missed expectations, noting that the reinsurance claims cost the bank 17 cents per share.

"That said, this will likely be offset by the better than anticipated dividend increase and strong domestic retail performance," Aiken wrote in a report to clients.

Canadian personal and commercial banking earned net income of $624 million in the quarter, up six per cent from a year ago, while U.S. personal and commercial banking earned net income of $280 million, down three per cent from a year ago due to a weaker U.S. dollar.

BMO Wealth Management earned net income of $172 million, down 38 per cent from a year ago. BMO Capital Markets earned $326 million, down 17 per cent from a record performance in the same quarter last year.

Provisions for credit losses totalled $208 million, an increase of $34 million from a year ago due to higher provisions at BMO Capital Markets, corporate services and Canadian personal and commercial banking.

BMO's common equity tier 1 ratio was 11.4 per cent at Oct. 31, up from 11.2 per cent at the end of its third quarter.

For the full financial year, BMO reported a profit of $5.35 billion or $7.92 per share, up from $4.63 billion or $6.92 per share a year ago.

"We start 2018 from a position of strength, with diversified and competitively advantaged businesses, a team of highly engaged, customer-focused employees and a solid technology and data foundation," BMO chief executive Darryl White said in a statement.

"I am confident that we will build on these core capabilities to accelerate growth, improve efficiency and drive customer loyalty."