Scotiabank Q2 profit tops expectations on strong international, domestic results

TORONTO _ The Bank of Nova Scotia’s second-quarter earnings beat expectations, fuelled by operations in Latin America and at home despite a slowdown in the Canadian housing market.

Canada’s third-largest lender on Tuesday reported a nearly four cent jump in net income attributable to common shareholders. Its international division delivered 14 per cent earnings growth and its Canadian banking division saw a five per cent year-over-year increase.

Scotiabank was the fourth of Canada’s biggest banks to report earnings for the three-month period ended April 30 that beat expectations against a backdrop of slowing real estate activity and tighter lending guidelines for uninsured mortgages as of Jan. 1.

However, residential mortgage balances at Scotiabank during the period grew by six per cent, compared with last year, to $203.8 billion, while the value of new mortgages issued during the period fell to $8.9 billion from $9 billion a year earlier and $10.3 billion in the previous quarter.

Scotiabank chief financial officer Sean McGuckin said the bank is still expecting five per cent growth for its 2018 financial year, helped by the pull-forward effect of buyers rushing to lock in home loans in the previous quarter ahead of the new rules.

“We’re still very optimistic … With all the other growth levers we have in the bank, in international banking and in commercial lending, we can overcome any slowdown or moderation in our mortgage growth,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

Scotiabank’s net income attributable to common shareholders during the quarter ended April 30 was $2.04 billion or $1.70 per diluted share, up from $1.97 billion or $1.62 per diluted share a year earlier. On an adjusted basis, the profit amounted to $1.71 per diluted share, compared with analysts’ expected earnings per share of $1.67, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.

The lender’s Canadian banking division saw a five per cent increase in net income attributable to equity holders to $1.02 billion, while its international banking arm saw an even bigger increase of 14 per cent to $675 million.

Scotiabank chief executive Brian Porter said its earnings at home were driven by solid asset growth led by commercial and small business, auto and mortgages, as well as margin expansion in a rising rate environment.

Beyond Canada’s borders, the lender’s earning growth was driven by momentum in the Pacific Alliance countries of Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Peru.

“International banking delivered another strong quarter, driven by double-digit loan growth in the Pacific Alliance, positive operating leverage and solid credit quality,” he told financial analysts.

The Pacific Alliance trade bloc has been a key focus for Scotiabank, which has announced several regional acquisitions and strategic investments as it looks to expand its footprint in Latin America.

In May, Scotiabank announced an agreement to acquire a 51 per cent controlling interest in Peru’s Banco Cencosud for approximately $130 million. The bank also announced a deal in January to buy Citibank’s consumer and small and medium enterprise operations in Colombia for an undisclosed amount. Scotiabank said in December it had secured a deal to buy a 68 per cent stake in a Chilean banking operation, BBVA Chile, for $2.9 billion.

Scotiabank’s global banking and markets division, however, saw net income attributable to equity holders drop by 14 per cent compared with the previous year to $447 million. The drop was due to “lower non-interest income, due primarily to high levels of client trading activity in equities last year, and the negative impact of foreign currency translation.”

Gabriel Dechaine, an analyst with National Bank of Canada Financial Markets, called it a “solid but unspectacular quarter” and noted that Scotiabank’s adjusted growth in its Canadian banking division of seven per cent is “low relative to peers.”

“Outperformance was driven by a re-alignment of reporting periods that added an extra month contribution from BNS Chile and the Canadian insurance business,” he said in a research note to clients. Previously, these divisions were reporting on a lag, and the realignment added one extra month of earnings to the latest quarter on a one-time basis.

The latest quarterly earnings were also driven by lower provisions, which were offset by a higher tax rate, Dechaine added.

The bank’s provisions for credit losses, or money set aside for bad loans, was $534 million, down nine per cent from the second quarter of 2017.

The bank’s common equity tier 1 ratio, a key measure of the bank’s financial health, was 12 per cent, up from 11.3 per cent a year ago and 11.2 per cent in the previous quarter.