The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

National Bank reports Q1 net income of $362M; ex-items, income up 7% at $375M

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MONTREAL - National Bank of Canada (TSX:NA) has reported second-quarter net income of $362 million and says its quarterly dividend will be going up by four per cent.

The Montreal-based bank, reporting after markets closed, said net profit under standard accounting was worth the equivalent of $1.01 per diluted share, down from $1.20 per share or $417 million in the second quarter of 2013.

Excluding certain items, National Bank's profit would have been $375 million or $1.05 per share, up from $352 million or $1 per share a year earlier.

The bank says its quarterly dividend will rise by two cents per share to 48 cents, to be paid on Aug. 1.

"National Bank delivered another good quarter with strong performance from the Wealth Management and P&C Banking segments," Louis Vachon, National Bank's president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

The adjusted earnings per share were a penny above the $1.04 consensus estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, but National Bank missed expectations in terms of revenue, which fell eight per cent year-over-year to $1.276 billion from $1.383 billion in the second quarter of 2013. Analysts had called for second-quarter revenue of $1.34 billion.

Financial markets revenue was down $26 million or seven per cent at $337 million due to declines in fixed-income, commodities and foreign-exchange trading activities. The segment's contribution to net income, excluding specified items, was $128 million, down nine per cent.

Meanwhile, the contribution to net income from personal and commercial banking operations after excluding specified items was $162 million, up six per cent from a year earlier, while the contribution from wealth management rose 40 per cent to $77 million, also after excluding specified items.

Vachon recently told shareholders at the bank's annual meeting in Calgary that Quebec's new Liberal government must restore a "climate of trust"' to reverse two years of lagging confidence that has hurt the province's economic growth.

Vachon said investor confidence in Quebec has taken a beating since 2012 from the investigation into the construction industry, student strikes, the debate on mining royalties and the charter of values.

He told shareholders that National Bank's shares trade at a discount to its Canadian peers, in part, because of the perception that the province is "condemned to grow slower than the rest of the country."

Barclays analyst John Aiken said that although the underlying earning metrics in the bank's second quarter results remained solid, the recent outperformance, combined with a "modest beat relative to peers reporting to date" mean its stock could face some "relative valuation pressure in the near term."

On the Toronto Stock Exchange, National Bank shares closed up 28 cents at $47.03 on Tuesday, three cents above Aiken's target price.

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