The Bank of Montreal raised its dividend as it reported a fourth-quarter profit of $1.19 billion, down from a year ago as it was hit by a restructuring charge related to its digitization and efficiency initiatives.
The bank said Tuesday it will now pay a quarterly dividend of $1.06 per share, up three cents from its previous rate.
The increased payment to shareholders came as BMO reported a profit that amounted to $1.78 per share for the quarter ended Oct. 31.
The result was down from a profit of nearly $1.70 billion or $2.58 per share a year ago, when the fourth quarter included a $203-million after-tax benefit from the remeasurement of an employee benefit liability.
This year’s fourth quarter included a $357-million restructuring charge, related to severance and real estate-related costs, as the bank accelerated delivery of digitization initiatives and simplification of the way it does business.
“We have a number of initiatives underway, including today’s announcement of a restructuring charge, that will serve to accelerate our momentum and help us meet our efficiency objectives,” BMO chief executive Darryl White said in a statement.
“In addition, we gained market share in key areas, including commercial lending and retail deposits, in Canada and the U.S.”
On an adjusted basis, BMO says it earned nearly $1.61 billion in the quarter, up from $1.53 billion in the same quarter last year.
The adjusted profit amounted to $2.43 per share, up from $2.32 per share a year ago.
Analysts on average had expected a profit of $2.41 per share, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.