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May 26, 2020

Scotia Q2 profit sinks 39% as loan loss provisions double

COVID-19 delivers heavy blow to Scotia's Q2 profit

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Bank of Nova Scotia managed to exceed profit expectations in its fiscal second quarter even as credit loss provisions doubled amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scotia's net income fell to $1.32 billion in the three-month period ending April 30, compared to $2.26 billion a year earlier. On an adjusted basis, profit sank 39 per cent to $1.37 billion, or $1.04 per share. On average, analysts expected the bank to earn 96 cents per share. Scotia also maintained its quarterly dividend at 90 cents per share.

As expected for all banks this earnings season, Scotia set aside significantly more money in preparation for loans that could go bad. Total provisions for credit losses reached $1.85 billion, compared to $926 million in the previous quarter, and still left one analyst wondering if it was enough.

“With [Scotia] first to report results, we don’t have a reference point relative to its large peers on the magnitude of the bank’s sequential PCL increase, although it does appear a bit light given the deterioration of the macroeconomic outlook and suggests that credit-related issues could linger for a longer period of time,” wrote Credit Suisse analyst Mike Rizvanovic in a note to clients.

Scotia's large international division was hardest hit in the quarter. Provisions for loan losses in that segment reached $1.02 billion and were a primary factor as the unit's profit plummeted 73 per cent year-over-year. By comparison, profit fell 42 per cent in Scotia's core Canadian banking operations.

There was stability elsewhere at the sprawling financial institution. Profit in Scotia's wealth management unit inched up three per cent, while its Global Banking and Markets unit saw profit surge 25 per cent.

"While the bank's second-quarter results were significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have remained fully operational and prioritized the health and safety of our employees," CEO Brian Porter said in a release.

"The bank remains well-positioned from a capital and liquidity perspective, and we are appropriately reserved for potential credit losses. Our repositioning efforts and significant investments in technology over the last number of years have allowed us to support our customers during this difficult time."