BMO Financial Group increased its quarterly dividend by 25% and beat expectations as it reported nearly $ 2.2 billion in fourth quarter earnings, up from nearly $ 1.6 billion in the same quarter last year. last year.

The bank said on Friday it would now pay a quarterly dividend of $ 1.33 per share, down from $ 1.06. It also plans to repurchase up to 22.5 million of its shares.

BMO says its earnings were $ 3.23 per share for the quarter ended Oct. 31, compared to $ 2.37 per diluted share in the same quarter last year. Revenue totaled $ 6.6 billion, up from nearly $ 6 billion a year ago.

On an adjusted basis, BMO says it earned $ 3.33 per diluted share, up from adjusted earnings of $ 2.41 per diluted share in the same quarter last year.

Analysts on average expected adjusted earnings of $ 3.21 per share, according to estimates compiled by financial market data firm Refinitiv.

“We delivered another strong quarterly performance with positive operating leverage in each of our diversified businesses, contributing to strong earnings for fiscal 2021,” BMO Managing Director Darryl White said in a statement. .

“Looking to 2022, we will continue to position BMO for growth with the economic recovery that will follow. We make targeted investments in technology and talent to improve the customer experience and provide cutting-edge advice to help them achieve real financial progress.

The Big Six Canadian banks raised their dividends and announced plans to repurchase a large number of their stocks this week as they released their fourth quarter results.

The increase in payments to shareholders follows a decision by the federal banking regulator last month to lift restrictions on dividend increases, share buybacks and executive compensation that were put in place at the start of the pandemic .

In its fourth quarter, BMO recorded a reversal of $ 126 million in its allowance for credit losses, compared to the $ 432 million it set aside for bad debts in the same quarter last year.

BMO said its personal and business banking in Canada earned $ 921 million in the fourth quarter, up from $ 647 million a year earlier, while its personal and business banking in the United States earned $ 512 million. , against 324 million dollars.

The bank’s wealth management business earned $ 369 million, up from $ 320 million in the same quarter last year, while its capital markets arm earned $ 536 million, up from $ 379 million. dollars.

BMO said its business services group lost $ 179 million in the fourth quarter, compared to a loss of $ 86 million in the same quarter last year.

For its full year, BMO said it earned nearly $ 7.8 billion or 11.58 per diluted share on $ 27.2 billion in revenue, compared with profit of $ 5.1 billion or 7.55 per diluted share on $ 25.2 billion in revenue a year earlier.