TORONTO - Royal Bank of Canada (TSX:RY) added its name to the list of big Canadian banks reporting improved earnings in the third quarter while announcing that it planned to boost its quarterly divided by six per cent.
The dividend boost "reflects the confidence we have in our ability to continue to generate solid earnings growth and successfully execute on our disciplined growth strategy by leveraging our strengths, scale and strong capital position," president and CEO Gordon Nixon said in a conference call Thursday.
The bank increased its quarterly dividend by four cents, or six per cent, to 67 cents per share.
Canada's largest bank by assets earned a record $2.3 billion or $1.52 per share in the three months ended July 31, up from $2.24 billion, or $1.47 per share, in the same period a year earlier.
Adjusted earnings per share came in at $1.48, which was 10 cents above analyst expectations, according to a survey of analysts by Thomson Reuters.
Revenue decreased to $7.72 billion from $7.76 billion.
When filtering out certain items, like a favourable tax adjustment and losses related to the acquisition of the remaining stake in RBC Dexia, the bank said earnings were up 12 per cent to $2.21 billion from $1.99 billion.
Royal said the results were driven by continued strength across most of its businesses, including record earnings in retail and commercial banking and wealth management.
Personal and commercial banking net income was a record $1.18 billion, rising seven per cent from the same time last year, largely due to solid volume growth across all businesses in Canada, which included the recent acquisition of Ally Canada.
The bank's insurance division reported profits fell $19 million to $160 million as higher earnings from a new U.K. annuity contract in the quarter were mostly offset by higher claim costs due to the flooding in Alberta and Ontario.
"While the claims did have an impact... they were not material to our business given the claims mitigation process," Nixon said.
"This business continues to make consistent contributions to our diversified earnings stream."
Royal Bank's wealth management net income increased 51 per cent to a record $236 million, mainly due to higher average fee-based client assets resulting from net sales and capital appreciation. Higher transaction volumes also contributed to the increase.
Analysts noted that much of Royal's strength came from a lower effective tax rate, which Barclays analyst John Aiken estimates added 10 cents per share to the quarter's earnings.
"While we anticipate that consensus earnings estimates are likely to rise coming out of the quarter, the market's reaction is likely to be more neutral than negative" after the results, he wrote.
"While there may be some questions surrounding the quality of the third quarter's earnings, the strong increase in the dividend indicates the bank's confidence in its earnings going forward."
Stonecap Securities analyst Brad Smith said that while investors should be pleased with the bank's overall results, he found some areas that were underwhelming.
"The weak capital market results, especially compared to peer achievements in this area, is likely to raise investor concerns given the importance of the segment," he wrote in a note.
The company also announced that its board chair, David O'Brien, will retire effective Dec. 31 and be replaced by director, Kathleen Taylor.
Royal Bank is the country's largest bank by assets and has 80,000 employees serving more than 15 million clients. The bank has operations in Canada, the U.S. and in 44 other countries.
Shares of Royal closed up 75 cents at $65.24 on the Toronto Stock Exchange Thursday.
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