UPDATE 3-Scotiabank profit jumps, pushing stock to new high

Tue Mar 5, 2013 4:43pm EST
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* Profit slightly exceeds estimates, dividend raised

* Stock rises 0.7 pct, hits all-time high

* Caps strong earnings season for Canada's top five banks (Adds analyst comment, closing share price)

By Cameron French

TORONTO, March 5 (Reuters) - Bank of Nova Scotia capped the Canadian bank earnings season with a better-than-expected 13 percent profit gain and a dividend hike, helped by higher markets-related income and the acquisition of Canadian online lender ING Direct.

The result, which pushed its shares to an all-time high, ended an earnings period that saw all of Canada's five biggest banks exceed earnings estimates and all but one raise dividends, as each were able to find ways to boost profit in spite a slowdown in their key consumer lending businesses.

In Scotiabank's case, its numbers were padded by the C$3.1 billion ($3.01 billion) acquisition of the Canadian online bank of Dutch lender ING Groep, which boosted loans and deposits, although its lower-rate mortgages weighed on the bank's loan margins.

"The ING numbers kind of cloud the trends a little bit, but if you take those numbers out, you get still-solid progression. The margins hung in well, the loan growth numbers are OK," said CIBC World Markets analyst Robert Sedran.

Net profit was C$1.63 billion, or C$1.25 a share, in the fiscal first quarter ended Jan. 31. That compared with a year-before profit of C$1.44 billion, or C$1.20 a share.   Continued...