Business

CIBC hikes dividend despite 11 per cent profit drop

The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce hiked its dividend as it reported its first-quarter profit fell 11 per cent to $1.18 billion, missing expectations.

Bank's quarterly payment to shareholders will go up by 4 cents to $1.40 per share

CIBC posted lower profit last quarter, but the bank still felt confident enough in its business to ratchet its dividend higher. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce hiked its dividend as it reported its first-quarter profit fell 11 per cent to $1.18 billion, missing expectations.

CIBC saw double-digit drops in profit from Canadian personal and small business banking and capital markets. However, commercial banking and wealth management delivered a 25 per cent uptick in earnings in the U.S. while in Canada earnings were relatively flat.

The bank said also said the quarter included several one-time items — such as a $227-million charge for a payment made to Air Canada to secure the bank's participation in the airline's new loyalty program — that resulted in a total negative impact of 41 cents per share.

"In the first quarter, we delivered solid performance across our strategic business units," CIBC chief executive Victor Dodig said in a statement. "We continue to make progress on our strategy to build a client-focused North American bank with diversified earnings growth and disciplined expense and capital management while delivering superior shareholder returns."

Canada's fifth-largest lender raised its quarterly payment to common shareholders by four cents to $1.40.

The Toronto-based bank's earnings for the three-month period ended Jan. 31 amounted to $2.60 per diluted share, down from $2.95 during the same period a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, CIBC earned $3.01 per share, down from $3.18 a year ago and below the $3.08 expected by analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters Eikon.

Its capital markets division saw a steep year-over-year decline, down $121 million or 38 per cent to net income of $201 million driven by lower revenue and a higher provision for credit losses, or money set aside for bad loans.

The lender's Canadian personal and small business banking arm reported net income dropped 29 per cent, or $193 million, during the quarter from a year earlier to $463 million. However, excluding certain one-time items, the division's adjusted net income was $632 million, down $26 million or four per cent from the same period in 2018.

CIBC's domestic commercial banking and wealth management saw net income increase by two per cent to $319 million, primarily driven by higher revenue and lower expenses.

However, net income from the its U.S. commercial banking and wealth management rose by 25 per cent to $168 million in the latest quarter, largely due to higher revenue.

CIBC's common equity tier one ratio, a key measure of a bank's financial health, was 11.2 per cent during the quarter. That marks an increase from 10.8 per cent a year ago but down from 11.4 per cent in the previous quarter.

The bank's provision for credit losses overall surged by 121 per cent to $338 million during the financial first quarter.

Higher than expected loan losses drove CIBC's earnings miss, said Gabriel Dechaine, an analyst with National Bank of Canada Financial Markets.

Scott Chan, an analyst with Canaccord Genuity, said the result marked CIBC's second straight quarterly earnings-per-share miss after largely beating expectations each quarter for the past four years.

"The bright spot came from CM's NA commercial businesses with volume up low double-digits, particularly U.S. commercial banking and wealth management," he said in a note to clients.

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