(Adds fund manager comment, updates shares)
By John Tilak
TORONTO, May 29 (Reuters) - Bank of Nova Scotia reported a quarterly profit that beat market expectations on Friday and outlined a plan to buy back shares as earnings grew at its Canadian banking division.
The second-quarter report from the country’s third-largest lender rounds out results from the six major Canadian banks, all of which beat earnings estimates. Three of them, Bank of Montreal, National Bank of Canada and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, also raised their dividends.
Still, investors remain concerned about slowing domestic growth and a lack of strong catalysts for the lenders, as well the impact from exposure to the energy industry.
Excluding items, earnings at Scotiabank’s Canadian banking division grew 9 percent year-over-year, and net interest margins in this segment climbed 10 basis points from the first quarter.
Scotiabank, whose stock gained 0.7 percent to C$65.01 in morning trading, joined some of its peers in reporting robust capital markets results.
“We think it was a very positive quarter,” Barclays analyst John Aiken said. “The increase in margins in the domestic retail business is a meaningful offset to the slowing loan growth we’re seeing.”
However, he was cautious about the prospects for the broader Canadian banking industry.
“Going forward, we’re not certain about the sustainability of the strong capital markets growth we’ve been seeing,” Aiken said. “The moderating growth in the Canadian economy may have an impact as well in the summer months.”
At its international division, net income slipped 1 percent and margins remained under pressure. But Canada’s most international major bank noted robust loan growth in those markets.
The lender, which is pushing hard into Mexico, Peru, Chile and Colombia, has also been looking at acquisitions in the region.
As part of a share repurchase plan, Scotiabank said it will buy back up to 24 million common shares, or about 2 percent of its outstanding stock.
“What was nice to see was the quality of earnings,” said Michael Sprung, president of Sprung Investment Management, which owns Scotiabank shares.
“It wasn’t so much on security gains as it was on some good trends on net interest income and strong capital.”
Net income in the quarter through April 30 was C$1.8 billion, or C$1.42 per share, compared with C$1.8 billion, or C$1.39 per share, a year ago. Excluding special items, earnings were C$1.43.
Analysts, on average, had expected earnings of C$1.39 a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. (Editing by Jane Merriman and Bernadette Baum)