* Cash earnings just short of estimates
* Bank hikes dividend 6 pct, as expected
* Shares down 2.1 pct
Dec 4 (Reuters) - Canadian Western Bank's profit rose a slightly smaller-than-expected 20 percent in the fourth quarter, prompting investors to sell the company's shares on Tuesday in spite of an announced dividend hike.
The bank, Canada's seventh-largest by market capitalization, said Tuesday that it earned C$43.0 million ($43.27 million), or 55 Canadian cents a share, in the fiscal fourth quarter ended Oct. 31. That compared with a profit of C$35.9 million, or 47 Canadian cents a share, in the year-before period.
The result, the 98th consecutive quarterly profit for the Edmonton, Alberta-based bank, was driven by a 14 percent rise in loans and an C$8.5 million increase in net gains on securities.
However, adjusted cash earnings of 56 Canadian cents a share fell just short of analysts' expectations of a profit of 58 Canadian cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Just before midday, the bank's shares were down 2.1 percent at C$28.38 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Canadian Western also said it would raise its quarterly dividend by 1 Canadian cent, or 6 percent, to 17 Canadian cents per share, which analysts had expected.
Longtime chief executive Larry Pollock said in August that he will step down next year after 23 years in the job. Pollock will be succeeded by Chris Fowler, who is currently the bank's president.
Over the past two decades, Pollock has overseen the transformation of Canadian Western from a six-branch operation to a regional bank focused on commercial loans to companies involved with the Alberta oil sands.