Royal Bank Posts Earnings Beat, Raises Dividend 7%

Royal Bank of Canada (RY) has posted better-than-expected earnings and announced that it is raising its quarterly dividend by 7%.

RBC’s dividend increase follows similar moves by Canada’s other major lenders. Bank of Montreal (BMO), Scotiabank (BNS) and CIBC (CM) each announced dividend hikes that ranged from 3% to 4.5% earlier this week. Royal Bank’s 7% dividend increase is by far the largest among this country’s big six lenders.

In announcing its latest financial results, RBC said that its total net income rose 6% year-over-year to $4.25 billion in its fiscal second quarter that ended on April 30. On an adjusted basis, the bank earned $2.99 a share, which beat the $2.69 in per-share profit expected by analysts.

RBC's profit in the latest quarter got a big lift from the release of funds that were previously set aside for loans that could go bad. The bank said it freed up $342 million that had been reserved for loan loss provisions.

In a news release, RBC said the improvement in credit quality was “mainly driven by reduced uncertainty relating to the COVID-19 pandemic which was partially tempered by increased downside risks, including rising inflation and interest rates.”

The bank's personal and commercial division's profit surged 17% year-over-year to $2.23 billion in the latest quarter. It benefitted from higher revenue, as well as the release of $276 million from loan loss provisions.

RBC's capital markets unit was the one drag on profit in the quarter as net income tumbled 26% year-over-year to $795 million. The bank attributed that primarily to a drop in fixed income and equity trading revenue.

The bank said it will raise its quarterly dividend to $1.28 per share as of August 24 from its current payment of $1.20.

Year to date, RBC’s stock is down 6% at $128.55 a share.