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Jun 1, 2021

Profit sweep for Big Six as Scotia beats in Q2 as credit improves

McCreath: Canadian banks are like 'rocks of Gibraltar' for someone's portfolio


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Bank of Nova Scotia closed out earnings season for Canada's Big Six lenders by joining its rivals with a profit beat that was powered a drop in loan-loss provisions.

Scotia's net income for the fiscal second quarter, which ended April 30, nearly doubled year-over-year to $2.5 billion. On an adjusted basis, the bank's profit surged 83 per cent to $1.90 per share. Analysts on average expected $1.76 in per-share adjusted profit.

“We delivered another quarter of strong results reflecting the strength of our diversified business platform, and the solid economic recovery underway in our core markets,” said Brian Porter, Scotia’s president and chief executive, in a release.

Just like the banks that reported last week, Scotia benefitted from a dramatically improved view of the credit landscape as it set aside $496 million for loans that could go bad, compared to $764 million in its fiscal first quarter and $1.8 billion a year earlier when the onset of COVID-19 prompted the industry to brace for a potential surge in loan defaults. But that outcome didn't materialize, in large part thanks to unprecedented fiscal spending to help absorb the economic shock from the pandemic.

Also similar to its peers, Scotia’s capital levels rose in the latest quarter. The bank’s Common Equity Tier 1 ratio reached 12.3 per cent, a new record for Scotia, from 12.2 in the fiscal first quarter and 10.9 per cent a year earlier. Canada’s banks have been held back from deploying their capital over the last year after the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) put a moratorium on share buybacks and dividend hikes in a move that was designed to ensure the banks could withstand challenges arising from COVID. Porter has repeatedly stated his bank intends to start buying back shares whenever OSFI stands down on its restrictions.

Scotia's core banking operations led the way in the latest quarter, with adjusted profit from its Canadian division surging 94 per cent year-over-year, while second-quarter adjusted earnings from its sprawling international banking operations climbed 118 per cent.

Unlike its rivals, Scotia's capital market's operations struggled in the latest quarter, as profit from the so-called Global Banking and Markets unit slipped on a year-over-year and sequential basis.