National Bank reports flat Q1 profit of $552M, missing expectations

National Bank reports flat Q1 profit of $552M, missing expectations
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MONTREAL — National Bank reported relatively flat first-quarter profits, missing estimates as broader business growth was tempered by a slowdown in its financial markets segment.

The Montreal-based lender reported net income for the three-month period ended Jan. 31 of $552 million, up $2 million from a year earlier.

That amounted to diluted earnings per share of $1.50 for the three-month period ended Jan. 31 , up from $1.46 a year ago and lower than the $1.54 in diluted earnings per share expected by analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters Eikon.

Its results in the latest quarter were driven by growth in most of its businesses, its financial markets segment was weighed down by market volatility late last year.

Chief executive Louis Vachon said the bank delivered a “good performance despite challenging markets.”

“We continue to benefit from the diversification of our business, a strong Quebec economy and our prudent approach to risk. Credit quality remains excellent, and the bank posted solid capital ratios,” Vachon said in a statement Wednesday.

National Bank is the latest Canadian lender to report its markets-related earnings were hampered by the tumultuous market landscape at the end of last year. North American stock markets plunged in late 2018 amidst political tensions such as a trade skirmish between the U.S. and China, as well as Brexit.

“Overall, while results were below estimates, we tend not to get too excited when earnings exceed expectations owing to strength in market-sensitive revenues and so are disinclined to fuss too much about volatility-induced weakness this time around,” said Robert Sedran, an analyst with CIBC Capital Markets in a note to clients. “Other trends were more stable and closer to estimates.”

National Bank’s personal and commercial banking arm reported net income of $246 million, up seven per cent from the financial first-quarter in 2018.

Its wealth management division reported net income of $125 million, up 10 per cent from a year ago.

The lender’s U.S. specialty finance and international operations delivered net income of $60 million, up 20 per cent from the financial first quarter of last year.

However, National Bank’s financial markets division reported net income of $170 million, down 17 per cent from $204 million one year ago.

Provisions for credit losses, or money set aside for bad loans, totalled $88 million, up slightly from $87 million one year earlier.

The bank’s common equity tier 1 ratio, a key measure of its financial health, was 11.5 per cent, down from 11.7 per cent a year ago and 11.7 per cent in the previous quarter.

Companies in this story: (TSX:NA)

The Canadian Press

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