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May 26, 2020

National Bank Q2 profit sinks 32% as loan loss provisions soar

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National Bank of Canada's profit fell by almost one-third in the fiscal second quarter as provisions for loan losses soared.

Net income in the three-month period ending April 30 slid to $379 million from $558 million a year earlier. On a per share basis, the bank's profit was in line with the average analyst estimate at $1.01.

National set aside $504 million in provisions for credit losses (PCLs), compared to $89 million in its fiscal first quarter and $84 million a year earlier.

Preparing for loans that could go bad amid the COVID-19 pandemic took an especially notable toll on National’s core Personal and Commercial banking division, where profit sank to $65 million from $230 million a year earlier. Meanwhile, earnings were flat in its Financial Markets division and up 21 per cent in Wealth Management.

The bank also confirmed it is maintaining its quarterly dividend at 71 cents per share.

"At this point in time, the severity and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the economy are impossible to predict," said CEO Louis Vachon in a release. "I am confident that the resilience of the bank's franchise, our defensive positioning, the quality of our credit portfolios, and our strong balance sheet will serve us well as we manage through these uncertain times."