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Aug 28, 2019

Bay Street bank bear turns bullish on BMO after recent stock decline

Canadian banks bear Nigel D'Souza turns bullish on BMO

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One of Bay Street’s biggest bears on the Canadian banking sector has changed his view on Bank of Montreal.

Nigel D’Souza, the Veritas Investment Research analyst who downgraded all of Canada’s Big Six banks to a “sell” rating earlier this year, upgraded BMO to a “buy” rating with a $91 per share target price on Wednesday.

“While we continue to hold an outlook of constrained growth and rising loan losses for the sector, we see upside in BMO shares even under our base case scenario for substantially higher credit losses in [fiscal 2020],” D’Souza wrote in a note to clients.

D’Souza’s revised outlook comes as BMO’s shares plunged Tuesday after reporting earnings that missed expectations amid muted U.S. growth and greater set-asides for bad loans in the third quarter.

The analyst added that BMO’s shares are now trading “at a discount” and could climb in the near term, barring a substantial decline in commercial loan growth.

“Based on our expectations for commercial loan balances to continue growing at mid to high single-digits in the near-term, which partially offsets the impact of margin compression, along with management’s efforts to contain non-interest expense growth, we see sufficient earnings over the next 12 months to justify a valuation above BMO’s current share price,” D’Souza said.

In March, D’Souza recommended investors to lighten up on Canadian lenders amid expectations that credit losses would pile up and potentially trigger a sharp fall in share prices in the country’s big banks.

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