UPDATE 2-Laurentian Bank profit beats estimates, ups dividend

Wed Dec 8, 2010 11:19am EST

* Q4 EPS C$1.24 vs estimates of C$1.15

* Raises quarterly dividend by 8.3 pct

* Shares rise 1.5 pct (Adds details)

TORONTO, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Laurentian Bank of Canada (LB.TO) said on Wednesday its quarterly profit fell 14.9 percent due to discontinued operations, but the bank raised its dividend by 8.3 percent, helping drive its shares higher.

The bank, Canada's eighth-largest by market capitalization, earned C$32.5 million ($32.2 million), or C$1.24 a share, in its fourth quarter, ended Oct. 31.

That compared with a profit of C$38.2 million, or C$1.47 a share, in the year-before period, when the bank recorded income from assets it had sold.

On a continuing operations basis, Laurentian's profit rose 21 percent, and the per-share result beat analysts' estimates of a profit of C$1.15 a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

By mid-morning, the bank's shares were up 1.5 percent, or 80 Canadian cents, at C$46.07 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

For the full year, the bank's profit rose 9 percent to a record C$122.9 million.

This prompted it to raise its quarterly dividend to 39 Canadian cents a share from 36 Canadian cents a share, becoming the third Canadian bank to raise its dividend this quarter after National Bank of Canada (NA.TO) and Canadian Western Bank (CWB.TO).

Canada's five biggest banks, which have held off on raising their dividends since the financial crisis took hold, are expected to begin raising their payouts next quarter.

Laurentian's quarterly revenue rose 6 percent to C$190.1 million, helped by loan and deposit growth.

($1=$1.01 Canadian) (Reporting by Cameron French; editing by Peter Galloway)

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