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CIBC sees revenue and expenses rise as it focuses on growth, raises dividend

·3 min read

TORONTO — CIBC has been investing in growth opportunities like its corporate rebrand and buying the Costco credit card portfolio, and both the costs and payoffs are starting to show up on its balance sheet.

The bank reported Thursday that revenue was up 10 per cent in the fourth quarter from a year ago to $5.06 billion thanks to volume growth in lending, growth in transaction fees, and adding clients in its capital markets division.

Costs, however, have also been rising, up seven per cent from the previous quarter and eight per cent from a year ago, mostly related to higher employee compensation but also from strategic initiatives.

CIBC chief executive Victor Dodig emphasized on a conference call that the bank was investing for future growth across the organization, from its new headquarters in Toronto down to bank branches and new technologies.

"The overarching theme at our bank, and our strategic focus as a leadership team is to continue to invest to grow market share at the expense of our competition."

The bank reported a fourth-quarter profit of $1.4 billion, or $3.07 per diluted share for the quarter ended Oct. 31, up from a profit of $1 billion or $2.20 per diluted share in the same quarter last year.

On an adjusted basis, CIBC says it earned $3.37 per diluted share, up from an adjusted profit of $2.79 per diluted share in the same quarter last year.

Analysts on average had expected the bank to report an adjusted profit of $3.53 per share, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

The earnings miss came in part from higher-than-expected expenses, as well as a $78 million increase in provisions for credit losses when analysts had expected a reversal.

Scotiabank analyst Meny Grauman said in a note that the details were better than the headline figures, as the credit provision increase was related to a change in bank parameters rather than the risk environment, while the expenses were elevated in part from the bank rebrand.

"The message on expenses from this bank continues to emphasize further reinvestment in the business, but despite an inflation headwind in F2022 management continues to expect positive operating leverage for the year as a whole thanks to continued strong revenue growth."

Barclays analyst John Aiken said in a note that loan growth at the bank was solid in both Canada and the U.S., and that operating leverage could remain positive even as the bank invests in growth.

The bank said Thursday that it will now pay a quarterly dividend of $1.61 per share, up from $1.46. CIBC also says it plans to buy back up to 10 million of its shares.

The increased payment to shareholders and share buyback follow moves by several other large Canadian banks this week after the federal banking regulator lifted restrictions last month on dividend increases, share buybacks and increases in executive compensation that were put in place at the start of the pandemic.

CIBC said its Canadian personal and business banking business earned $597 million, up from $590 million a year ago, while Canadian commercial banking and wealth management earned $442 million, up from $340 million in the same quarter last year.

In the U.S., CIBC says commercial banking and wealth management earned $256 million, up from $135 million a year ago.

CIBC's capital markets business earned $378 million, up from $310 million in the same quarter last year.

For its full year, CIBC says it earned $6.4 billion or $13.93 per diluted share, up from a profit of $3.8 billion or $8.22 per diluted share a year earlier. Revenue totalled $20 billion, up from $18.7 billion.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2021.

Companies in this story: (TSX:CM)

Ian Bickis, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version misattributed a quote to John Aiken.

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