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Equitable Group Reports Fourth Quarter and Annual Results, Increases Common Share Dividend By 7%

TORONTO , Feb. 28, 2019 /CNW/ - Equitable Group Inc. (TSX:EQB and EQB.PR.C) ("Equitable" or the "Company") today reported financial results for the three and twelve months ended December 31, 2018 that reflected strong and diversified growth in its wholly owned subsidiary, Equitable Bank (the "Bank" or " Canada's Challenger Bank™").

Equitable Group Inc. (CNW Group/Equitable Group Inc.)

FOURTH QUARTER HIGHLIGHTS

  • Adjusted Diluted earnings per share were $2.66 , up 12% from $2.38 in the same period of 2017
  • Adjusted Return on Shareholders' Equity was 14.7% compared to 15.0% in Q4 2017


Q4 2018 reported Diluted earnings per share ("EPS") were $2.33 and reported Return on Shareholders' Equity ("ROE") was 12.9%.  The Company's reported results include $7.4 million (Q4 2017 - $0.5 million ) of pre-tax mark-to-market losses on derivatives and certain preferred share investments.

2018 ANNUAL HIGHLIGHTS

  • Adjusted Diluted earnings per share were an all-time record $10.10 , up 8% from $9.38 in 2017
  • Adjusted Return on Shareholders' Equity was 14.7% compared to 15.8% in 2017
  • Single Family Lending mortgage principal at December 31, 2018 was $10.6 billion , up 14% from $9.3 billion a year ago on strong originations and renewal rates
  • Commercial Lending mortgage principal at December 31, 2018 was $3.9 billion , up 31% from $2.9 billion a year ago as a result of record origination activity
  • The Provision for Credit Losses ("PCL") was $2.1 million or 0.01% of mortgage principal, which reflects the high credit quality of the Bank's assets
  • Deposits at December 31, 2018 were $13.5 billion , up 23% from $11.0 billion a year ago as the Bank grew its EQ Bank deposits to $2.2 billion , a 34% increase year-over-year
  • Common Equity Tier 1 Capital Ratio was 13.5% compared to 14.8% at December 31, 2017 and remains above the level of the larger publicly listed Schedule I Canadian banks


2018 reported Diluted EPS and ROE were $9.67 and 14.1% respectively, compared to $9.39 and 15.8% in 2017.  Reported results include $3.9 million of pre-tax mark-to-market losses on derivatives and certain preferred share investments, as well as a $5.9 million pre-tax write-down of unamortized up-front costs associated with the reduction in the size of the Bank's secured backstop facility.

DIVIDEND DECLARATIONS AND INCREASE

The Board of Directors today declared a dividend of $0.30 per common share, payable on March 29, 2019 to common shareholders of record at the close of business March 15 , 2019.  This represents a 15% increase over the dividend declared in February 2018 and a 7% increase over the dividend declared in November 2018 .  The Board also declared a quarterly dividend in the amount of $0.396875 per preferred share, payable on March 29, 2019 , to preferred shareholders of record at the close of business on March 15, 2019 .

The Board of Directors also decided to reinstate its common share Dividend Reinvestment Plan ("DRIP").  Participation in the plan is optional, and under the terms of the plan, cash dividends may be used to purchase additional common shares at a 3% discount to the volume weighted average trading price of the common shares on the TSX for the five trading days immediately preceding the dividend payment date.  Common shares issued as a result of participation in the DRIP are issued from the Company's treasury.  The Company maintains the right to suspend the DRIP in future periods.

COMMENTARY ON PERFORMANCE AND OUTLOOK

"Our innovative digital platform drew more customers than ever to Canada's Challenger Bank™ this year and we were able to profitably deploy those deposits into our lending businesses.  Single family and commercial lending both achieved double-digit asset growth in 2018 as a result of our best-in-class service," said Andrew Moor , President and Chief Executive Officer.  "For fellow shareholders, this high growth translated into record annual earnings, even after accounting for $3.9 million of mark-to-market losses which resulted mainly from the impact of volatile capital markets on certain of our preferred share investments.  Looking ahead, we are confident that we will be able to continue attracting Canadian consumers to our EQ Bank platform and growing our existing lending businesses.  The acquisition of equipment leasing specialist Bennington Financial Corp ("Bennington") and the introductions of our reverse mortgage and CSV line of credit offerings set the stage for Equitable to challenge and grow across an even wider spectrum of the secured lending market.  I am confident that the Bank's momentum in all business lines will translate into even greater progress in 2019."

Management expects earnings to continue increasing in 2019 due to the Bank's growing loan portfolio, higher margins and the Bennington acquisition.  As a result of continued emphasis on service quality and the addition of Bennington, year-over-year growth of Assets Under Management is expected be in the range of 8% to 10% in 2019.  ROE should be high and approximately 15% in 2019, though below Equitable's 10-year average of 17.0% due to ongoing investments in key strategic initiatives.  These performance metrics exclude a one-time IFRS 9-related provision of approximately $7 million that the Bank will take in Q1 2019 related to its Bennington acquisition.  Management's complete business outlook can be found in Management's Discussion and Analysis for the three and twelve months ended December 31, 2018 which is available on SEDAR and on Equitable's website.

BENNINGTON FINANCIAL CORP.

On January 1, 2019 , the Company completed the acquisition of Bennington Financial Corp, a profitable and growing company serving the brokered equipment leasing market in Canada .  Bennington provides small and medium-sized business customers with competitive and innovative leasing solutions.  At the time of acquisition, Bennington had a portfolio of approximately $440 million of leases managed by a team of 125 professionals.  The transaction allows Bennington to enhance its competitive positioning using Equitable's cost-effective funding sources.  Equitable will begin to consolidate Bennington's financial results in Q1 2019.

EQUITABLE TRUST

Equitable received approval to incorporate Equitable Trust, a wholly owned trust subsidiary, in the fourth quarter of 2018 and the Trust subsequently received the "Order to Commence and Carry On Business" from OSFI effective December 19, 2018 .  The Trust will provide Equitable with additional tools to help Canadians save for their financial goals and further diversify Equitable's funding sources.

CONFERENCE CALL AND WEBCAST

Equitable will hold its fourth quarter conference call and webcast at 10:00 a.m. eastern Friday March 1, 2019 .  To access the call live, please dial (647) 427-7450 five minutes prior to the start time.  The listen-only webcast with accompanying slides will be available at www.equitablebank.ca under Investor Relations.  The call will be hosted by Andrew Moor , President and Chief Executive Officer.

A replay of the call will be available until March 8, 2019 at midnight and it can be accessed by dialing (416) 849-0833 and entering passcode 1494226 followed by the number sign.  Alternatively, the call will be archived on the Company's website for three months.

CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS


















CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS






($ THOUSANDS)












As at December 31


2018(1)

2017






Assets






Cash and cash equivalents


$

477,243

$

660,930

Restricted cash



327,097


366,038

Securities purchased under reverse repurchase agreements



250,000


-

Investments



193,399


107,442

Mortgages receivable – Core Lending



14,491,325


12,304,741

Mortgages receivable – Securitization Financing



9,035,079


6,993,807

Securitization retained interests



115,331


104,429

Other assets



147,671


96,863



$

25,037,145

$

20,634,250







Liabilities and Shareholders' Equity






Liabilities:






   Deposits


$

13,668,521

$

11,114,313

   Securitization liabilities



9,236,045


7,565,545

   Obligations under repurchase agreements



342,010


452,001

   Deferred tax liabilities



42,610


35,802

   Other liabilities



177,961


199,601

   Bank facilities



289,971


128,871




23,757,118


19,496,133







Shareholders' Equity:






   Preferred shares



72,557


72,557

   Common shares



200,792


198,660

   Contributed surplus



7,035


6,012

   Retained earnings



1,014,559


866,109

   Accumulated other comprehensive loss



(14,916)


(5,221)




1,280,027


1,138,117



$

25,037,145

$

20,634,250


(1) 

The amounts for the year ended December 31, 2018 have been prepared in accordance with IFRS 9; prior year amounts have not been restated.

 

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF INCOME





($ THOUSANDS, EXCEPT PER SHARE AMOUNTS)













Years ended December 31


2018(1)

2017








Interest income:







Mortgages – Core Lending


$

637,318

$

516,564


Mortgages – Securitization Financing



199,032


178,329


Investments



5,867


4,502


Other



17,846


11,067





860,063


710,462

Interest expense:







Deposits



290,991


204,894


Securitization liabilities



191,866


174,920


Bank facilities



24,242


15,997


Debentures



-


3,079


Other



4,583


3,210





511,682


402,100

Net interest income



348,381


308,362

Provision for credit losses



2,083


1,543

Net interest income after provision for credit losses



346,298


306,819

Other income:







Fees and other income



21,229


28,302


Net loss on investments



(3,855)


(888)


Gains on securitization activities and income from securitization retained interests



10,285


13,612





27,659


41,026

Net interest and other income



373,957


347,845

Non-interest expenses:







Compensation and benefits



77,062


65,206


Other



72,301


63,824





149,363


129,030

Income before income taxes



224,594


218,815

Income taxes:







Current



54,374


50,220


Deferred



4,594


7,978





58,968


58,198

Net income


$

165,626

$

160,617

Dividends on preferred shares



4,763


4,763

Net income available to common shareholders


$

160,863

$

155,854







Earnings per share







Basic


$

9.73

$

9.46


Diluted


$

9.67

$

9.39



(1)

The amounts for the year ended December 31, 2018 have been prepared in accordance with IFRS 9; prior year amounts have not been restated.

 

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF COMPREHENSIVE INCOME






($ THOUSANDS)












Years ended December 31


2018(1)

2017







Net income


$

165,626

$

160,617







Other comprehensive income – items that will be reclassified subsequently to income






   Debt instruments at Fair Value through Other Comprehensive Income/Available for sale:






      Net unrealized gains from change in fair value



37


15,647

      Reclassification of net losses to income



17


412







Other comprehensive income – items that will not be reclassified subsequently to income






   Equity instruments designated at Fair Value through Other Comprehensive Income:






      Net unrealized losses from change in fair value



(14,505)


 N/A

      Reclassification of net losses to retained earnings



11


 N/A




(14,440)


16,059

Income tax recovery/(expense)



3,831


(4,223)




(10,609)


11,836







Cash flow hedges:






Net unrealized (losses)/gains from change in fair value



(2,971)


6,272

Reclassification of net losses to income



2,285


1,875




(686)


8,147

Income tax recovery/(expense)



182


(2,221)




(504)


5,926

Total other comprehensive (loss)/income



(11,113)


17,762

Total comprehensive income


$

154,513

$

178,379



(1)

The amounts for the year ended December 31, 2018 have been prepared in accordance with IFRS 9; prior year amounts have not been restated.

 

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF CHANGES IN SHAREHOLDERS' EQUITY


Accumulative other


2018












comprehensive



($ THOUSANDS)











income (loss)





















Preferred

shares

Common

shares

Contributed

surplus

Retained

earnings

Cash flow

hedges

Financial 
instruments

at FVOCI(1)


 

Total

 

Total























Balance, beginning of year


 

$

72,557

$

198,660

$

6,012

$

866,109

$

3,153

$

(8,374)

$

(5,221)

$

1,138,117

Cumulative effect of adopting IFRS 9



-


-


-


5,450


-


1,418


1,418


6,868

Restated balance as at January 1, 2018



72,557


198,660


6,012


871,559


3,153


(6,956)


(3,803)


1,144,985

Net income



-


-


-


165,626


-


-


-


165,626

Transfer of losses on sale of equity instruments



-


-


-


(9)


-


9


9


-

Other comprehensive loss, net of tax



-


-


-


-


(504)


(10,618)


(11,122)


(11,122)

Exercise of stock options



-


1,780


-


-


-


-


-


1,780

Dividends:



















Preferred shares



-


-


-


(4,763)


-


-


-


(4,763)


Common shares



-


-


-


(17,854)


-


-


-


(17,854)

Stock-based compensation



-


-


1,375


-


-


-


-


1,375

Transfer relating to the exercise of         

   Stock options



-


352


(352)


-


-


-


-


-

Balance, end of year


$

72,557

$

200,792

$

7,035

$

1,014,559

$

2,649

$

(17,565)

$

(14,916)

$

1,280,027















































Accumulated other

2017













comprehensive











 income (loss)
















Available








Preferred

Common

Contributed

Retained

Cash flow


for sale






shares

shares

surplus

earnings

hedges

investments


Total


Total




















Balance, beginning of year


 

$

72,557

 

$

196,608

 

$

5,056

 

$

725,912

 

$

 

(2,773)

 

$

(20,210)

 

$

(22,983)

 

$

977,150

Net income



-


-


-


160,617


-


-


-


160,617

Other comprehensive loss, net of tax



-


-


-


-


5,926


11,836


17,762


17,762

Exercise of stock options



-


1,726


-


-


-


-


-


1,726

Dividends:



















Preferred shares



-


-


-


(4,763)


-


-


-


(4,763)


Common shares



-


-


-


(15,657)


-


-


-


(15,657)

Stock-based compensation



-


-


1,282


-


-


-


-


1,282

Transfer relating to the exercise of

   Stock options



-


326


(326)


-


-


-


-


-

Balance, end of year


$

72,557

$

198,660

$

6,012

$

866,109

$

3,153

$

(8,374)

$

(5,221)

$

1,138,117





















(1)

Current year balance is classified as at FVOCI for debt and equity instruments, however, balance at the beginning of the year is classified as Available for Sale under IAS 39.

 


CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF CASH FLOWS






($ THOUSANDS)













Years ended December 31


2018(1)

2017

CASH FLOWS FROM OPERATING ACTIVITIES






Net income


$

165,626

$

160,617

Adjustments for non-cash items in net income:







Financial instruments at fair value through income



7,532


(3,058)


Amortization of premiums/discount on investments



7,829


11,241


Amortization of capital assets and intangible costs



9,454


8,878


Provision for credit losses



2,083


1,543


Securitization gains



(9,025)


(10,633)


Net loss on sale or redemption of investments



-


888


Stock-based compensation



1,375


1,282


Income taxes



58,968


58,198


Securitization retained interests



28,481


24,617

Changes in operating assets and liabilities:







Restricted cash



38,941


(118,160)


Securities purchased under reverse repurchase agreements



(250,000)


199,401


Mortgages receivable, net of securitizations



(4,248,509)


(1,547,374)


Other assets



(36,838)


(15,360)


Deposits



2,544,335


1,361,660


Securitization liabilities



1,670,057


(195,890)


Obligations under repurchase agreements



(109,991)


339,513


Bank facilities



161,100


78,871


Other liabilities



(11,111)


(2,466)

Income taxes paid



(60,663)


(80,174)

Cash flows (used in)/from operating activities



(30,356)


273,594

CASH FLOWS FROM FINANCING ACTIVITIES







Proceeds from issuance of common shares



1,780


1,726


Redemption of debentures



-


(65,000)


Dividends paid on preferred shares



(4,763)


(4,763)


Dividends paid on common shares



(17,343)


(14,977)

Cash flows used in financing activities



(20,326)


(83,014)

CASH FLOWS FROM INVESTING ACTIVITIES







Purchase of investments



(112,760)


(40,486)


Proceeds on sale or redemption of investments



238


76,176


Net change in Canada Housing Trust re-investment accounts



(57)


241


Purchase of capital assets and system development costs



(20,426)


(9,760)

Cash flows (used in)/from investing activities



(133,005)


26,171

Net (decrease)/increase in cash and cash equivalents



(183,687)


216,751

Cash and cash equivalents, beginning of year



660,930


444,179

Cash and cash equivalents, end of year


$

477,243

$

660,930








Cash flows from operating activities include:






Interest received


$

842,060

$

704,813

Interest paid



(383,522)


(354,727)

Dividends received



5,827


4,567



(1)

The amounts for the year ended December 31, 2018 have been prepared in accordance with IFRS 9; prior year amounts have not been restated.

 

ABOUT EQUITABLE GROUP INC.

Equitable Group Inc. is a growing Canadian financial services business that operates through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Equitable Bank.  Equitable Bank, Canada's Challenger Bank™, is the country's ninth largest independent Schedule I bank and offers a diverse suite of residential lending, commercial lending and savings solutions to Canadians.  Through its proven branchless approach and customer service focus, Equitable Bank has grown to over $29 billion of Assets Under Management.  EQ Bank, the digital banking arm of Equitable Bank, provides state-of-the-art digital banking services to almost 71,000 Canadians and was the 2018 recipient of the Best Mobile App in Canada at the World Finance Digital Banking Awards. In 2018, the Bank started to diversify into adjacent business through its commercial lending platform. On January 1, 2019 , Equitable Bank acquired Bennington, which furthered the Bank's diversification by providing access to the brokered equipment leasing market.  Equitable Bank employs nearly 795 dedicated professionals including Bennington across the country and is a 2019 recipient of Canada's Best Employer Platinum Award, the highest bestowed by AON Hewitt.  For more information about Equitable Bank and its products, please visit equitablebank.ca.

CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

Statements made by the Company in the sections of this news release, in other filings with Canadian securities regulators and in other communications include forward-looking statements within the meaning of applicable securities laws ("forward-looking statements").  These statements include, but are not limited to, statements about the Company's objectives, strategies and initiatives, financial performance expectations and other statements made herein, whether with respect to the Company's businesses or the Canadian economy.  Generally, forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as "plans", "expects" or "does not expect", "is expected", "budget", "scheduled", "planned", "estimates", "forecasts", "intends", "anticipates" or "does not anticipate", or "believes", or variations of such words and phrases which state that certain actions, events or results "may", "could", "would", "might" or "will be taken", "occur" or "be achieved", or other similar expressions of future or conditional verbs.  Forward-looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results, level of activity, closing of transactions, performance or achievements of the Company to be materially different from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements, including but not limited to risks related to capital markets and additional funding requirements, fluctuating interest rates and general economic conditions, legislative and regulatory developments, changes in accounting standards, the nature of our customers and rates of default, and competition as well as those factors discussed under the heading "Risk Management" in the Management's Discussion and Analysis and in the Company's documents filed on SEDAR at www.sedar.com.  All material assumptions used in making forward-looking statements are based on management's knowledge of current business conditions and expectations of future business conditions and trends, including their knowledge of the current credit, interest rate and liquidity conditions affecting the Company and the Canadian economy.  Although the Company believes the assumptions used to make such statements are reasonable at this time and has attempted to identify in its continuous disclosure documents important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in forward-looking statements, there may be other factors that cause results not to be as anticipated, estimated or intended.  Certain material assumptions are applied by the Company in making forward-looking statements, including without limitation, assumptions regarding its continued ability to fund its mortgage business, a continuation of the current level of economic uncertainty that affects real estate market conditions, continued acceptance of its products in the marketplace, as well as no material changes in its operating cost structure and the current tax regime.  There can be no assurance that such statements will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements.  Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements.  The Company does not undertake to update any forward-looking statements that are contained herein, except in accordance with applicable securities laws.

NON-GENERALLY ACCEPTED ACCOUNTING PRINCIPLES ("GAAP") FINANCIAL MEASURES

This news release references certain non-GAAP measures such as Adjusted Diluted earnings per share, Adjusted Return on Shareholders' Equity, Return on Shareholders' Equity, , Common Equity Tier 1 Capital Ratio, and Assets Under Management that management believes provide useful information to investors regarding the Company's financial condition and results of operations.  The "NON-GENERALLY ACCEPTED ACCOUNTING PRINCIPLES ("GAAP") FINANCIAL MEASURES" section of the Company's 2018 Management's Discussion and Analysis provides a detailed description of each non-GAAP measure and should be read in conjunction with this release.  The Management's Discussion and Analysis also provides a reconciliation between all non-GAAP measures and the most directly comparable GAAP measure, where applicable.  Readers are cautioned that non-GAAP measures often do not have any standardized meaning, and therefore, may not be comparable to similar measures presented by other companies.

SOURCE Equitable Group Inc.


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