(Bloomberg) -- Concerns about the shaky US office market ate into Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce’s earnings, which fell far short of analyst estimates as the lender set aside more than expected for souring loans.
Provisions for credit losses totaled C$736 million ($543 million) in the fiscal third quarter, according to a statement Thursday, more than the C$456 million analysts had predicted. The bank had put aside C$438 million in the previous three months. The Toronto-based bank’s C$1.52 of adjusted earnings per share missed an average analyst estimate of C$1.68.
The bank attributed the surge to impairments in the US office loan portfolio, and is signaling that higher provisions from commercial real estate may persist, RBC Capital Markets analyst Darko Mihelic said in a note to clients. “A larger-than-expected impaired PCLs this quarter is somewhat understood, but the outlook also makes CIBC stand out negatively.”
CIBC shares slumped 3.1% to C$53.62 at 12:02 p.m. in Toronto. They’ve dropped 2.1% this year, compared with a 3.6% decline for the S&P/TSX Commercial Banks Index.
The bank is “seeing some deterioration” in its portfolio of office loans, but elsewhere “impairment levels continue to be strong,” Chief Financial Officer Hratch Panossian said in an interview.
After Canada’s six biggest banks spent months underperforming the wider market, expectations were low going into earnings season thanks especially to expenses, stressed consumers and higher interest rates around the world. Mihelic cited gloomy capital markets and a lack of deals when he cut his profit forecasts for CIBC and its rivals earlier this month.
It has been a relatively dour time for Canadian banking. Royal Bank of Canada, the country’s biggest lender, said last week it would cut as much as 2% of its staff after surging expenses dinged results.
Canadian officials have been looking closely at the country’s finance industry. In June, the national banking regulator set higher capital requirements on its largest lenders for the second time in about six months, a signal that it’s concerned about risk. When the announcement was made, CIBC was the closest of the country’s six biggest banks to the new regulatory minimum.
Higher interest rates have been a mixed bag for the banking industry. They’ve boosted lending revenue, while raising the chance that borrowers might face trouble.
What Bloomberg Intelligence Says:
“The jump in CIBC’s 3Q loan-loss provisions (PCL) has a negative warning for the coming quarters, even as peers have shown gradual reserving.”
— Paul Gulberg, senior industry analyst, and Ethan L. Kaye, senior associate analyst
At CIBC, third-quarter net income slumped 14% from a year earlier to C$1.43 billion, or C$1.47 a share. Net interest income — generally the difference between what banks earn from loans and how much they pay depositors — totaled C$3.24 billion, unchanged from a year earlier.
The bank is aiming to “grow our earnings in an environment where revenues are slowing and credit losses are normalizing,” Panossian added. “There is uncertainty out there. What we’re trying to do is stick to our strategy.”
(Updates with CFO comments in fifth, last paragraphs, share price in fourth.)
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