UPDATE 2-Scotiabank raises dividend, still seeks growth abroad

Tue Mar 4, 2014 12:38pm EST
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* Profit of C$1.34 excluding items meets Wall Street estimate

* International banking division's profit slips

* Canada's third-largest lender caps off strong bank earnings period

By Cameron French

TORONTO, March 4 (Reuters) - Bank of Nova Scotia capped off Canada's bank earnings period with a higher quarterly profit and a dividend increase on the back of strong domestic lending volumes and wealth management income, but its international retail operations posted softer results.

Still, Scotiabank Chief Executive Officer Brian Porter said the bank planned to keep looking for international acquisitions, particularly in its wealth management and insurance business.

"The phone continues to ring, and there will continue to be opportunities within our footprint," Porter said on a conference call.

The results from Scotiabank, Canada's No. 3 lender, follows a series of reports that showed the country's top banks had continued to earn solid returns from domestic lending despite signs that heavily indebted consumers were slowing their borrowing.

Scotiabank's net income rose to C$1.71 billion ($1.54 billion), or C$1.32 a share, in the first quarter ended Jan. 31 from C$1.61 billion, or C$1.24 a share, a year earlier. Excluding an amortization charge, the bank earned C$1.34 a share, meeting analysts' estimates.   Continued...