(Bloomberg) -- Bank of Montreal posted fiscal first-quarter profit that topped analysts’ estimates, helped by an improving credit outlook that allowed it to reserve less to protect against potential loan losses.

  • Canada’s fourth-largest lender by assets set aside C$156 million ($124 million) in provisions against loan losses in the three months through January, down 64% from the fourth quarter.

Key Insights

  • Bank of Montreal’s capital-markets unit continued to post strong results, helped by rising and volatile stock markets. Profit in the unit rose 36% from a year earlier, driven by higher trading revenue.
  • With the pandemic restraining overall revenue gains, controlling costs will be key across the Canadian banking sector. Bank of Montreal’s non-interest expenses fell 1.5% from a year earlier.
  • Earnings for personal and commercial banking climbed in both Canada and in the U.S., where profit surged from a year earlier, driven by revenue gains in banking for businesses.

Market Reaction

  • Bank of Montreal has risen 5.2% this year, compared with a 5.9% advance for the S&P/TSX Commercial Banks Index.

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  • Net income rose 27% to C$2.02 billion, or C$3.03 a share, in the first quarter. Excluding some items, profit was C$3.06 a share. Analysts estimated C$2.15, on average.
  • Click here for more on Bank of Montreal’s first-quarter results.

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