Royal Bank has record annual profit of $10B

Royal Bank of Canada reports record 2015 profit of just over $10 billion, an 11 per cent increase from last year.

RBC is the latest Canadian bank to report double-digit profit growth in the final quarter

Most of RBC's profit growth in the fourth quarter came from capital markets, which increased its net income by 38 per cent to $555 million. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

Royal Bank of Canada reports that its 2015 profit was $10.03 billion, an 11 per cent increase from last year.

That included $2.59 billion in the fourth quarter ended Oct. 31, which was also up 11 per cent.

RBC's profit amounted to $1.74 per common share for the quarter — above analyst estimates — and $6.73 for the full year. Its dividend remains at 79 cents per share, payable Feb. 24.

"We had record earnings of $10 billion in 2015, reflecting the strength of our diversified business model and our ability to execute our growth strategy in a changing environment," Dave McKay, RBC president and CEO, said in a statement.

Royal's fourth-quarter growth was largely driven by its capital markets operations, which increased its net income by 38 per cent or $153 million to $555 million.

Its corporate support arm also benefited from a favourable tax adjustment, which pushed up that segment's net income to $200 million from $126 million in the fourth quarter of 2014.

RBC's core personal and commercial banking operations accounted for half of this year's total third-quarter profit, including a relatively flat $1.23 billion from Canadian operations.

Royal's banking operations in the Caribbean and the United States turned profitable, compared with last year's losses, but profit declined in the bank's wealth management, insurance and treasury services operations.

Trouble around Alberta loans

IT says it's beginning to see early signs of trouble brewing in its consumer loan books in Alberta, where the oil price shock has led to a rise in unemployment.

"We've noticed a slight — and I would stress the word slight — upward trend in auto and credit card delinquencies in Alberta and while they haven't translated into writeoffs, we are monitoring the performances of these portfolios," said Mark Hughes, RBC's chief risk officer.

Hughes noted that rate of delinquent loans — where the borrower is late on a payment — is higher in communities within the province that are more dependent on the energy sector.

The bank also added eight new companies to its watchlist in the energy sector. Loans to the oil and gas sector comprise 1.6 per cent of the bank's total loan book.

"Overall, our portfolio is performing as expected and we continue to work closely with our clients to help them manage through this sustained period of low oil prices," Hughes said of commercial loans in the oilpatch.

The bank also reduced its total number of full-time employees by 528 positions — mostly by not replacing workers who resigned or retired.

Managing costs has become a dominant theme for all of the country's biggest banks as they strive to increase earnings despite dampened economic conditions that have made revenue growth challenging. One way has been by digitizing certain back-office functions such as document processing, allowing for fewer employees.

National Bank Q4 profit rises 5%

National Bank also announced its fourth-quarter results Wednesday. The country's sixth largest bank says its fourth-quarter net income rose five per cent to $347 million, taking the full-year profit for 2015 to $1.62 billion.

The Montreal-based bank also announced its quarterly dividend will go up by two cents or four per cent to
54 cents per common share, payable Feb. 1.

Royal and National are the latest Canadian banks to report profit growth in the final three months of their financial year, following Scotiabank and Bank of Montreal on Tuesday.


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