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Bank of Montreal to hike dividend, continue share buybacks following record year

TORONTO, Cananda - Bank of Montreal (TSX:BMO) says its annual net profit hit a record $4.2 billion in 2013, with strong performances from its wealth management and its main Canadian banking operations.

The year included $1.088 billion of net income in the fourth quarter ended Oct. 31, which was up one per cent from $1.082 billion a year earlier.

Its provision for credit losses during the quarter was reduced to $189 million from $192 million a year earlier while the 2013 provision was $589 million, down 23 per cent from $765 million in fiscal 2012.

Fourth quarter adjusted net income fell two per cent from a year ago to $1.102 billion, but came in well ahead of analyst estimates. For the full year, adjusted net income was $4.276 billion, up five per cent from

"Canadian personal and commercial banking had record earnings in the year. We delivered robust volume growth contributing to notably stronger revenue and income in the second half of the year," BMO chief executive Bill Downe said in a statement.

"Wealth management had a record year with earnings up significantly and increased market share, supported by strong asset growth and customer loyalty."

However, BMO's U.S. personal and commercial banking arm had lower net income in the fourth quarter, falling by 28 per cent from a year earlier to US$103 million, while net income at its capital markets segment dropped 27 per cent to $229 million.

By comparison, the bank's Canadian personal and commercial banking arm recorded $469 million of net income in the fourth quarter, an increase of $27 million or six per cent from a year earlier.

Net income from wealth management services in the fourth quarter nearly doubled to $312 million, the bank said.

BMO's overall adjusted earnings amounted to $1.64 per share, down one cent from a year earlier but ahead of analyst estimates of $1.58 per share.

Bank of Montreal also announced that its quarterly dividend will be increased by two cents to 76 cents per common share — a move that had been widely expected.

It also announced that its share buyback program will be renewed when it expires.

The Canadian Press


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