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Bank of Montreal profit tops $1 billion

Bank of Montreal (TSX:BMO) delivered a number of surprises Tuesday, including an unexpected dividend increase and first-quarter results that beat analyst estimates, although its profit and revenue were both lower than a year before.

The bank said Tuesday that its net income slipped to $1.05 billion or $1.53 per share from $1.12 billion or $1.63 per share a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, earnings were $1.52, beating analyst expectations by four cents, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters.

Total revenue was down slightly from a year earlier, falling by one per cent to $4.08 billion from $4.12 billion.

The consensus estimate had been for revenue to fall further to $3.9 billion and for adjusted earnings to drop to $1.48 per share.

Provisions for credit losses were one of the weaknesses of the results. The money set aside to cover bad loans increased to $178 million from $141 million.

Chief executive Bill Downe said all of the bank's major divisions in Canada and the United States, where it operates under the BMO Harris Bank brand, performed well during the three-month period, which ended Jan. 31.

"Looking ahead, we are well-positioned to leverage our North American platform and deliver sustained earnings growth," Downe said in a statement.

The Canadian Press

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