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May 7, 2020

'Nobody knows': Home Capital loan-loss-provisions soar, bracing for unexpected

'Employment is the key factor in loan repayment': Home Capital CEO

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Home Capital Group Inc. booked triple-digit growth in funds set aside in the latest quarter for loans that could go bad, in a potentially worrying sign about credit quality in Canada. But CEO Yousry Bissada isn’t ready to guess how hard Canadian households will be hit by COVID-19.

“It’s very, very hard to figure out this,” he said in an interview with BNN Bloomberg’s Amanda Lang Thursday.

“Nobody knows what the new normal – and getting back to the new normal – how much that will positively affect, or how fast that will positively affect [Canadian livelihoods],” he added. “It’s wait-and-see, and it’s ‘go out and get the data’ and look at it every time and try to reflect as best or as accurately as you can.”

Home Capital said Thursday its loan-loss provisions surged 674.4 per cent to $30.2 million in the first quarter of 2020, compared to the final quarter of 2019. On a year-over-year basis, provisions jumped 397.9 per cent.

"This largely reflects a build-up of performing loan losses, stemming from the uncertain macro environment caused by COVID-19-related lockdowns," wrote TD Securities Analyst Graham Ryding in a report to clients.

Despite the rise in provisions, Home Capital's net income was steady in the quarter at $27.7 million, compared to $27.8 million a year earlier. On an adjusted basis, the lender earned $0.56 per share. Analysts, on average, were expecting an adjusted profit of $0.72 per share. The company logged $1.62 billion in total mortgage originations in the first quarter, matching the amount booked in the previous quarter.

"Home Capital believes that the impact of COVID-19 on its operations will depend on the duration of lockdown conditions, the effectiveness of relief programs at mitigating the economic effects on our customers and the resulting impact on the markets for real estate and consumer credit," the company said in its release.

Bissada said he could not speculate on how or when Canada will recover, since the data his company has to go on is from a period that ended just as the pandemic began to slow the Canadian and global economies.

“In accounting it’s very specific that you have to take it as of the date you’re reporting. You don’t look beyond that date, and in our case, it’s March 31,” Bissada said of the company’s practices, which are based on models utilized by Moody’s Corporation. “The Moody’s model – when you look at it as of April 30 - hasn’t changed very much. But, could it change more in May and June? It’s quite possible.”