December 4, 2008 / 9:03 PM / in 9 years

TD Bank CEO sees "reasonable" 2009 earnings increase

TORONTO, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) should see profit growth in 2009, thanks to a full year’s contribution from its Commerce Bank network in the United States, as well as momentum in its Canadian retail operations, the bank’s chief executive said on Thursday.

“It is realistic to expect that we will see a reasonable increase in absolute earnings in 2009, and an increase in earnings per share,” President and CEO Ed Clark told a conference call.

However, the bank is not providing a specific outlook on earnings growth, citing a lack of visibility

“Obviously we’re in a very uncertain economic environment,” Clark said.

He also said that TD would open fewer branches in Canada in 2009 than it did in 2008, and would add fewer wealth-management advisers as well.

It plans about 20 new Canadian bank branches and 80 “client facing advisers” in wealth management next year, down from 30 new branches and 130 advisers in 2008.

In the United States, TD plans to keep its branch openings “steady,” adding about 30 next year, Clark said.

TD bought Cherry Hill, New Jersey-based Commerce Bancorp Inc in March and said in October it would rebrand about 575 Commerce Bank and TD Banknorth branches along the U.S. east coast as TD Bank.

Earlier on Thursday, TD said its fourth-quarter profit fell 7 percent because of previously announced writedowns for credit trading losses in its TD Securities unit.

Canada’s second-largest bank said its net income was C$1.01 billion, or C$1.22 a share, in the three months ended Oct. 31. That includes various unusual items, including a litigation reserve gain of C$323 million related to Enron.

A year earlier, net income was C$1.09 billion, or C$1.50 a share.

Adjusted to exclude unusual items, profit in the latest quarter was C$665 million, or 79 Canadian cents a share, down from C$1.02 billion, or C$1.40 a share, a year earlier.

TD Bank concluded a C$1.4 billion common share issue earlier this week, which boosted its Tier 1 capital ratio to 9.1 percent. ($1=$1.28 Canadian) (Reporting by Lynne Olver; editing by Rob Wilson)

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