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Dividend hikes punctuate successful quarter for financial services firms – Investment Executive

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In the quarters ended between Aug. 31 and Oct. 31, 2021, 26 of the companies reported higher year-over-year earnings; one firm, RF Capital Group Inc., posted positive net income compared to a loss a year earlier; 12 companies reported lower year-over-year net income; and two reported losses.

The average earnings increase was 35.2%, but that figure was buoyed by a huge increase in net income for Brookfield Asset Management Inc. (BAM), as well as the fact that most banks didn’t need to increase their loan-loss provisions (LLPs). In fact, in the quarter ended Oct. 31, the banks reduced LLPs by $261 million overall, following a drop of $455 million in the previous quarter.

Normally, the banks add between $1.5 billion and $2.5 billion of LLPs each quarter, so the declines in LLPs pushed up bank earnings and the average net income increase for the companies in the survey as a whole. Had the quarter’s LLPs been $2 billion, the year-over-year increase in net income for the banks would have been 14.7% instead of 32%, and the overall increase would have been 24.3%.

BAM, the biggest company in the survey by revenue, posted revenue this quarter of $19.2 billion. Its earnings are volatile because of constant changes in the fair value of its investments and the uneven flow of the acquisitions and dispositions that are part of its business model. In this quarter, BAM reported gains in both fair value and net dispositions, totalling $1.8 billion. Combined with higher earnings from operations, the company reported a $2.2-billion increase in net income from a year earlier.

Excluding BAM and the banks, the average gain in profits for the other 29 companies was only 12.7%.

Six of the increases in quarterly dividends were declared by banks, which, along with insurers, had been prohibited by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions from issuing dividends during most of the pandemic. Bank of Montreal’s quarterly dividend rose to $1.33 from $1.06; CIBC’s rose to $1.61 from $1.46; Canadian Western Bank’s rose to 30¢ from 29¢; National Bank of Canada’s rose to 87¢ from 71¢, Royal Bank of Canada’s rose to $1.20 from $1.08 and Toronto-Dominion Bank’s rose to 89¢ from 79¢.

Other dividend increases included Element Fleet Manage–ment Corp.’s to 7.75¢ from 6.5¢; Manulife Financial Corp.’s to $33¢ from 28¢; Sun Life Financial Inc.’s to 66¢ from 55¢; Intact Financial Corp.’s to 91¢ from 83¢; and Fiera Capital Corp.’s to 21.5¢ from 21¢.

In addition, Great-West Lifeco Inc. paid a special dividend of 5.2¢ in December; so did First National Financial Corp., of $1.25. Both payments were in addition to the companies’ normal dividends. ECN Capital Corp.’s third quarter report stated the company intends to pay a special dividend of $7.50 after the sale of two businesses, a deal that closed on Dec. 23.

Equitable Group Inc. did a two-for-one stock split on Oct. 15 and adjusted its quarterly dividend accordingly, to 18.5¢ per share from 37¢.

Here’s a closer look at the sectors:

Banks

Nine banks reported higher earnings. Equitable and Home Capital Group Inc. had lower net income and Laurentian Bank of Canada reported a loss.

Laurentian booked a $77.9-million after-tax impairment charge in its personal banking division. Laurentian’s 2021 annual report stated this “reflects the recent decline in assets and deposit volumes,” which, along with prevailing economic conditions, “made it challenging to retain existing customers and acquire net new ones.”

Equitable’s and Home Capital’s net income declines were single-digit percentages and not worrisome.

All the Big Six banks reported substantial earnings increases, ranging from RBC’s 19.9% to CIBC’s 50.5%. Among the six, only Bank of Nova Scotia and CIBC increased their LLPs, but only by $168 million and $78 million, respectively.

Finance companies

Accord Financial Corp., ECN Capital and Firm Capital Mortgage Investment Corp. reported higher year-over-year net income while Element, First National, MCAN Mortgage Corp. and Timbercreek Financial Corp. reported lower earnings than a year ago.

Accord’s huge 384.5% increase in earnings reflects the broader economic recovery. The company buys other firms’ accounts receivable and was negatively affected by lockdowns. Accord’s financial report noted that its Canadian small business division and U.S. media finance divisions did particularly well in the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2021.

ECN’s 188.2% rise in net income reflects much stronger increases in revenue than expenses (43.4% versus 17.6%, respectively), plus a jump in earnings for businesses being sold (to US$13.6 million from US$7.4 million).

Element services vehicle fleets, for which demand has been muted by the pandemic; First National reported a big decline in deferred placement fees; and both MCAN and Timbercreek reported sizable drops in revenue.

Life insurers

E-L Financial Corp. and Manulife reported lower earnings, while Great-West Lifeco, iA Financial Group Inc. and Sun Life reported higher net income. E-L’s drop was because of much lower increases in the fair value of investments in this quarter, at $9.5 million compared with $215.9 million a year earlier.

As for Manulife, despite an overall net income drop of 26.6%, the firm reported an increase of 10% in core earnings on a constant exchange-rate basis. Net income was higher in Canada and for the company’s global wealth and asset management divisions, and down in the U.S. and Asia.

Property & casualty and mortgage insurers

Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd., Intact and Sagen MI Canada Inc. reported higher earnings year-over-year.

Fairfax’s gain was huge because net income a year earlier was very weak. The company’s earnings are volatile because, unlike most insurers, it invests in equities and private companies.

The other companies focus on insurance operations. Both Co-operators General Insurance Co. and Intact had lower underwriting profits, but Intact managed a 4% gain when excluding charges related to the acquisition of U.K.-based RSA Insurance Group Ltd.

Mutual fund and investment management firms

Five companies reported increased earnings, RF reported positive year-over-year net income, two firms reported year-over-year declines and Dundee Corp. reported a loss. Dundee mainly invests in mining companies, which are not faring well.

CI Financial Corp.’s net income dropped by 62.9% thanks to $50.3 million in foreign-exchange losses and a $61.4-million drop in the fair value of acquisition liabilities.

Guardian Capital Group Ltd. reported the biggest drop in percentage terms, down by 79.8% due to a drop in the fair value of investments of $8.1 million versus a gain of $35.7 million a year earlier.

CI reported positive net sales ($800 million), as did AGF Manage-ment Ltd. ($288 million) and IGM Financial Inc. ($1.9 billion).

Brokerages

Both Canaccord Genuity Group Inc. and Oppenheimer Holdings Inc. reported big earnings gains, reflecting the pickup in advisory activities.

Exchanges

TMX Group Ltd.’s net income rose by 9.8%, reflecting a 11.4% increase in revenue.

Holding companies

Desjardins Group reported a 54.3% earnings gain that was driven by the company’s property & casualty insurance arm, where earnings rose by 86.5% to $289 million.

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Financial services profit survey

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City investments dropped nearly $5M during this year's first quarter – Moose Jaw Today

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The City of Moose Jaw’s investment portfolios lost nearly $5 million during the first quarter of this year due to — among other things — jittery stock markets, the war in Ukraine and increasing inflation.

During city council’s May 24 regular meeting, council received the investment committee’s report with results from the first quarter of 2022. Council then voted unanimously to receive and file the document.

There was $79,923,836.46 in the long-term portfolio and $29,485,162.61 in the moderate-term portfolio as of March 31, for a total of $109,408,999.07, the report showed. In comparison, as of Dec. 31, 2021, those values were $83,929,536.26, $30,245,558.98, and $114,175,095.24, respectively.

Long-term portfolio

From Jan. 1 to March 31, the long-term portfolio decreased by 4.77 per cent and lost $4,005,699.80. This dropped the portfolio to $79,923,836.46 from $83,929,536.26. 

Moderate-term portfolio

From Jan. 1 to March 31, the moderate-term portfolio decreased by 2.51 per cent and lost $760,396.37. This dropped the portfolio to $29,485,162.61 from $30,245,558.98.

Combined, both portfolios lost $4,766,096.17 during the first quarter, equal to 15.3 percentage points in municipal taxation. 

Since the inception of these portfolios in 2019, they have provided total returns of $18,484,248.18. 

Portfolio changes

During the investment committee’s meeting, it made two changes to how money from the long-term portfolio is invested.

Mayor Clive Tolley moved that $2.71 million from that portfolio be invested in the City of Moose Jaw’s operating account; that motion was approved.

Tolley also moved that the municipality establish a $2-million position into iShares Global Quality Dividend over time; that motion was approved.

Future outlook

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could lead to a drawn-out period of uncertainty, with the invasion devastating the latter’s economy and harsh sanctions that limit the flow of money, goods and technology affecting the former’s economy, portfolio manager RBC Dominion Securities said in its report.

Due to this war, the financial institution projected a reduction of 0.7 per cent in the eurozone’s GDP growth this year to three per cent and a decrease of 0.3 per cent in the U.S.’s GDP growth to 3.1 per cent. 

“From a long-term perspective, the Russian-Ukraine war brings a range of potential implications, including a new Cold War, increased military spending, nuclear proliferation and a heightened motivation to shift energy supplies toward renewables,” RBC added.

Meanwhile, economic recovery worldwide is slowing because of the pandemic, tightening financial conditions, slowing Chinese growth, reduced U.S. spending and elevated inflation levels, the report said.

Global growth will likely decelerate to 3.6 per cent this year compared to 6.2 per cent last year. Developed-world growth will fall to three per cent from 5.1 per cent, while growth in emerging markets will slow to 4.1 per cent from 7.3 per cent last year. 

RBC predicted that the damage from sanctions against Russia will be unclear, which means the risk for a recession in the United States this year is higher than ever.

Inflation is also punching the United States — and the world — in the gut and running at the highest levels seen in decades, RBC said. The main drivers are surging commodity prices, supply-chain problems, stimulative central banks, labour shortages and a worldwide housing boom. 

“We continue to believe that inflation will, over a longer-term horizon, eventually fully revert to normal, with aging populations and slower population growth even bringing inflation down below historical norms,” the company added.

RBC added that the Russia-Ukraine war would alter the currency landscape, central banks will respond to inflationary pressures, the long-term direction for bond yields will remain up, stocks will have better return potential if earnings come through and re-deploying cash to bonds and stocks will be more attractive.

The next regular council meeting is Monday, June 13.

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DNA Pro Investment App Steals $38 Million from Users: Police – Jakarta Globe

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Jakarta. The National Police on Friday named 14 suspects in the ongoing investigation into pyramid scheme-style investment app DNA Pro after thousands of users reported financial losses totaling Rp 551 billion ($38 million).

DNA Pro was one of the so-called trading robots taken down in a recent government crackdown on phony investment apps.

“There are at least 3,621 victims who have reported to the National Police Headquarters with a total loss of Rp 551.7 billion,” Special Economic Crime Director Brig. Gen. Whisnu Hermawan told a news conference in Jakarta.

He said 11 suspects are already in custody while three others remain at large.

“We believe that the three fugitives have fled to a foreign country,” he added.

The three are identified as DNA Pro’s co-founders Verawati and Devinata Gunawan and business development director Daniel Zii aka Fauzi.

Police have been investigating the suspected fraud since January when they decided to take down the app.

Whisnu said authorities have frozen 64 bank accounts with links to DNA Pro and a combined deposit of Rp 105.5 billion, seized Rp 112.5 billion in banknotes of various denominations, and confiscated 20 kilograms of gold and 14 luxury cars.

An unspecified number of properties have also been sealed during the police investigation.

“We don’t stop there because investigators and their colleagues from the [anti-money laundering agency] PPATK continue to trace assets here and abroad,” Whisnu said.

The officer added that DNA Pro has committed to “manipulative investment” without a proper trading mechanism and any government license.

All the 11 suspects in custody including president director Daniel Abe were presented at the news conference.

Daniel offered an apology to users and colleagues but argued that the initial idea was not to develop a pyramid scheme investment app.

“It grew so rapidly in terms of [the number of] users while our system was not fully ready yet that it developed into a pyramid scheme,” Daniel said.

Other suspects are identified as Rudi Kusuma, Robby Setiadi, Dedi Tumiadi, Yosua Trisutrisno, Franky Yulianto, Russel, Jerry Gunandar, Stefanus Richard, Hans Andre, and Muhammad Asad.

They could face a sentence of up to 20 years in prison if convicted of financial scams.

The app offered big investment returns and even higher commissions if users could bring new signups. It hired celebrities and prominent people to convince new users.

Actress Una Astari Thamrin once spoke highly of the app but last month she claimed that she too was a victim after being interrogated by police.

Una was promised six Honda cars in return for a certain level of investment and a certain number of new recruits in DNA Pro, a lawyer for the actress said.

“She and her family fall victims to DNA Pro because she has invested Rp 1.5 billion but could only withdraw Rp 603 million,” Yafet Rissy said. 

The lawyer claimed that Una wasn’t involved in the DNA Pro management although she was hired to appear in promotion programs on three occasions.

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BC investing more than $2.4 billion in Metro Vancouver transit improvements | BC Gov News – BC Gov News

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The Province is supporting public transit expansion for people in Metro Vancouver through a significant investment in TransLink that will mean better and more convenient service, lower emissions, and healthier, more livable communities

B.C. is contributing more than $2.4 billion to advance key transit and infrastructure priorities, including the Surrey Langley Skytrain and electrification of the bus fleet, as part of its ongoing commitment to fund 40% of the Mayors’ Council 10-Year Vision.

“We’re making investments to support a better future for people throughout Metro Vancouver with more affordable and convenient travel options, cleaner air and less climate pollution,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy and Minister Responsible for TransLink. “By supporting TransLink to help provide public transit options that connect us to our communities, workplaces, friends and families, we’re building more vibrant communities with easier access to jobs, housing, recreation and services people depend on.” 

TransLink’s investment plan includes actions to: maintain and expand transit service; support faster, more reliable bus service through bus-priority infrastructure; transition bus fleets from diesel to zero-emission vehicles; and increase active transportation investments. The plan will help TransLink replace more than one third of its diesel bus fleet with approximately 500 battery-electric buses and buses that run on renewable natural gas. It will also provide opportunities to build more complete, liveable communities with affordable housing and increased density around transit lines.

“It has been a challenging few years, and we thank the provincial government for its commitment to ensure transit continues to serve residents throughout Metro Vancouver,” said Kevin Quinn, CEO of TransLink. “This investment plan and the Province’s support will ensure that TransLink is on solid ground while advancing priority projects for the region.”

This new commitment builds on previous provincial funding in TransLink’s 2018 investment plan, which funded increased bus and HandyDART services, better and expanded SkyTrain service, and construction of the Broadway subway.

“The 2022 investment plan will stabilize transit funding for the region and put us in a stronger position to advance Transport 2050’s vision for a more livable and sustainable region,” said Jonathan Coté, mayor of New Westminster and chair of the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation. “We are grateful for the Province’s continued support for better public transit and sustainable communities across Metro Vancouver.”

The TransLink investment plan means better transit services for people and also supports the Province’s climate-change and clean-economy objectives through the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030. The CleanBC Roadmap is the Province’s plan to expand and accelerate climate action by building on its natural advantages – abundant and clean electricity, innovative technology and a highly skilled workforce. The CleanBC Roadmap sets a path for increased collaboration to build a British Columbia that works for everyone.

Quick Facts:

  • The Province partnered with the federal government in 2020 to provide TransLink more than $675 million in Safe Restart funding to ensure continued essential transit services for 2020 and 2021, to keep fare increases capped at 2.3% until the end of 2024, and to enable free transit for children 12 and younger.
  • In April 2022, an additional $176 million in provincial and federal funding was announced for TransLink for 2023 to 2025.

Learn More:

To learn more about the Mayors’ Council 10-Year Vision, visit: http://tenyearvision.translink.ca

To learn more about the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030, visit: http://www.cleanbc.ca   

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