* Bank expects 7-10 percent earnings growth in 2019
* Bank expects mid-single digit mortgage growth
* Q4 EPS C$1.63 vs forecast C$1.62 (Adds comments from CFO interview)
TORONTO, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Toronto-Dominion Bank said it expected to meet a target for earnings growth of 7 to 10 percent in 2019 after reporting fourth-quarter earnings which were marginally ahead of analysts’ expectations on Thursday.
Earnings per share, excluding one-off items, rose by 20 percent to C$1.63 in the quarter ended Oct. 31, compared with C$1.36 a year ago. Analysts had, on average, forecast earnings of C$1.62, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Canada’s second-biggest lender by market value, which has substantial operations in the United States, said net income, excluding one-off items, climbed 17 percent to C$3.05 billion during the period.
TD has benefited from interest rate hikes in the U.S. and Canada that have helped it improve its net interest margin (NIM), the difference between the interest it gets from borrowers and what it pays to savers.
In an interview, Chief Financial Officer Riaz Ahmed said a healthy economic backdrop and rising rates in the U.S. and Canada gave the bank confidence it would deliver earnings within its previously stated target of 7 to 10 percent next year.
The bank’s NIM rose by two basis points to 1.68 percent in the year to Oct. 31 and Ahmed said he expected further improvement in 2019 despite rising competition for customer deposits.
“We should expect, in this environment of rising rates, that net interest margins will continue to expand into 2019,” he said.
The bank’s Canadian retail business grew net income by 5 percent to C$1.74 billion in the fourth quarter, helped by improved market share in mortgages.
Mortgage sales grew 4 percent in the fourth quarter, with mid-single digit growth expected in 2019, Ahmed said.
TD’s U.S. retail business saw a 44 percent increase in net income to C$1.14 billion, reflecting higher margins resulting from interest rate hikes and beneficial tax reforms.
For the full year, TD reported net income of C$12.2 billion, up 15 percent from the previous year. (Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by Edmund Blair and Bernadette Baum)