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May 23, 2018

CIBC blows past estimates in 'sigh of relief' for mortgage business

CIBC tops second-quarter profit estimates even as mortgage book flattens

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Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce kickstarted bank earnings season on Wednesday with a big profit beat powered by double-digit growth in its core Canadian banking division.

CIBC earned $1.32 billion in its fiscal second quarter. On an adjusted basis, profit surged 26 per cent year-over-year to $1.35 billion.

On a per share basis, CIBC's adjusted profit was $2.95 in the three months ending April 30. Analysts, on average, were expecting $2.81.

The bank's Canadian Personal and Small Banking unit delivered the lion's share of the profit, with adjusted earnings rising 16 per cent to $586 million.

The bank was routinely singled out in the lead-up to earnings season as most vulnerable to the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions’ new stress-testing guideline. Indeed, the bank’s Canadian mortgage book flattened out in the second quarter at $203 billion, unchanged from the previous three-month period.

“It’s a bit of a sigh of relief, I think, from the analysts on that one because CIBC was probably the bigger litmus test for the more stringent lending rules on the mortgage side,” said John Zechner, chairman and founder of Toronto-based investment management firm J. Zechner Associates, in an interview with BNN Bloomberg. “If there was going to be any problem or any warning signs in those numbers you would have seen it in CIBC.”

CIBC's U.S. division, meanwhile, saw its adjusted profit surge 426 per cent year-over-year to $142 million thanks to last year's purchase of PrivateBancorp.

The only unit to report weaker profit was capital markets, where net income slipped seven per cent to $249 million, which CIBC attributed to lower revenue from equity underwriting and equity derivatives trading.

"We delivered robust earnings growth with continued progress on our strategy to build a relationship-oriented bank for a modern world with high quality, diversified earnings growth and disciplined expense and capital management," CEO Victor Dodig said in a release.

CIBC also announced on Wednesday it intends to buy back up to nine million of its shares.