UPDATE 1-Laurentian Bank profit flat, in line with expectations

Wed Mar 5, 2014 10:20am EST

TORONTO, March 5 (Reuters) - Laurentian Bank of Canada said on Wednesday its first-quarter adjusted profit was little changed from a year earlier, in line with expectations, as the bank battles headwinds from consumer deleveraging and compressed margins.

Montreal-based Laurentian, Canada's eighth-largest bank by market capitalization, said adjusted net income was C$39.3 million ($35.38 million), or C$1.29 diluted per share, in the fiscal first quarter, versus C$39.1 million, or C$1.30 diluted per share, in the same quarter a year earlier.

Analysts had expected a profit of C$1.28 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Shares of Laurentian Bank were down 0.4 percent at C$46.32 in early trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Revenue at the bank, which operates almost exclusively in the province of Quebec, was C$216.1 million, up from C$213.9 million a year earlier, as net interest margins and expenses were largely unchanged.

Provisions for credit losses, the amount of money the bank sets aside to cover bad loans, were C$10.5 million, up from C$8.0 million in the same quarter in 2013. The bank said the increase in loan losses in the first quarter reflected a return to more normalized overall loan losses from the low levels of 2013.

Adjusted return on common shareholders' equity was 11.7 percent, down from 12.5 percent a year earlier.

Laurentian Bank Chief Executive Officer Rejean Robitaille said compressed margins and consumer deleveraging still pose a challenge, and the bank is focused on developing higher-margin commercial activities and boosting profit from non-interest sensitive sources to bolster revenues.

"As we move forward, we will continue our targeted efforts to improve efficiency, maximize operating leverage, and deliver the synergies related to our acquired businesses," Robitaille said in a statement.

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