A CIBC sign is shown in the financial district in Toronto. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS

Sluggish loan growth eats into CIBC’s Q2 profits in the wake of five rate hikes

TORONTO — Canadian Imperial Bank Of Commerce saw slow growth in personal and small business banking, offsetting its gains in capital markets and U.S. commercial banking as total earnings fell short of analysts’ expectations.

Chief executive Victor Dodig cited “modest” year-over-year revenue growth last quarter at CIBC’s retail banking unit, which nonetheless saw earnings fall 2.4 per cent to $570 million compared to the same period in 2018.

Higher interest rates compensated in part for sluggish loan growth and higher provisions on impaired loans — provision for credit losses rose 20 per cent year over year to $255 million.

The Bank of Canada has hiked interest rates five times between mid-2017 and last fall, boosting revenue but raising the bar for borrowers and precipitating a slowdown in CIBC loans.

Dodig said he expects “relatively flat” total year-over-year earnings in 2019, “given market conditions to date and our decision to continue investing in the business.”

“Despite market volatility, which was driven largely by geopolitical uncertainty, the economic environment continues to be constructive across our businesses,” he said on an earnings call with investors Wednesday.

Trade tensions between the United States and China continue to rise along with a mounting trade war, on top of ongoing uncertainty over the global economy following a decade of continuous growth.

In commercial banking, CIBC saw its Canadian loan and deposit balances grow in the double-digits last quarter, yielding 5.8 per cent net income growth year over year to $328 million.

Earnings from the lender’s U.S. commercial banking and wealth management business grew 18 per cent to $163 million.

Higher underwriting and advisory fees helped boost profits at the bank’s capital markets business, which includes investment banking, by 12 per cent to $279 million.

CIBC reported a second-quarter profit of $1.35 billion, up 2.2 per cent from $1.32 billion in the same quarter last year.

The Toronto-based lender said its overall profit amounted to $2.95 per diluted share for the quarter ended April 30, up from $2.89 per diluted share a year ago.

Provision for credit losses was $255 million, up $43 million from the second quarter a year ago.

On an adjusted basis, CIBC said it earned $2.97 per diluted share for the quarter, up from an adjusted profit of $2.95 per diluted share.

Analysts had expected a profit of $2.99 per share for the quarter, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.

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