UPDATE 2-Canadian lender CIBC profit beats estimates, eyes U.S. deals

Thu Feb 26, 2015 10:26am EST
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(Adds comment from CEO about acquisitions)

By Jeffrey Hodgson

TORONTO Feb 26 (Reuters) - Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, the country's No 5 lender, reported better-than-expected first-quarter earnings on Thursday, helped by strong growth in its wholesale banking business, and unexpectedly raised its dividend.

Excluding items, CIBC earned C$2.36 ($2) per share in the quarter ended Jan. 31, topping the average analyst estimate of C$2.27, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

CIBC shares rose 2.9 percent to C$94.89 in Toronto, the biggest gain among the country's major banks. Toronto-Dominion Bank also reported results on Thursday, posting an in-line profit.

Investor sentiment had soured on Canadian largest banks heading into the results season on concerns about the impact of a sharp price drop in oil prices. But four of five lenders reporting have met or beat expectations.

CIBC CEO Victor Dodig told analysts the bank was still looking at buying U.S. asset management and private banking providers. He had previously said the bank could do deals in the C$1 billion to C$2 billion range.

"While we have been actively assessing opportunities, we have not identified anything that meets our acquisition criteria. We will be patient and remain disciplined on valuation," he said on a conference call.

Dodig also said the bank was under no restrictions when it comes to acquisitions, other than its own criteria for deals.   Continued...