December 04. 2012 11:00AM - Last modified: December 04. 2012 11:49AM

BMO Financial Group caps strong fiscal year

BMO Financial Group, the Toronto-based parent company of BMO Harris Bank, today reported strong fiscal fourth quarter earnings and a plan to repurchase up to 15 million of its common stock shares.

Bank of Montreal's common shares are listed on both the Toronto and New York stock exchanges.
The company reported quarterly net income of $1.1 billion (in Canadian dollars), up 41 percent over the same period a year ago. The firm’s earnings per share grew 43 percent to $1.59.

For the entire fiscal year, BMO’s net income grew 35 percent to $4.2 billion.

“BMO's fourth quarter results mark a strong finish to a pivotal year for the bank," said Bill Downe, president and chief executive officer of BMO Financial Group. "In the quarter we successfully completed the conversion of the core banking platform in the U.S. and turned the page on the purchase of M&I, announced 24 months ago. Since the fourth quarter of 2010, we have generated reported earnings of $7.3 billion and increased BMO's book value from $19.3 billion to $26.2 billion - an increase of 18 percent.

The company made a concerted focus on efficiency, which was reflected in a reduction of 700 full-time employees, Downe said.

"Over the past two years, with the acquisition of Marshall & Ilsley Corporation, we have fundamentally transformed the bank, changed its growth trajectory and enhanced long-term value for shareholders. BMO Harris Bank has strong deposit market share positions in our core Midwest markets, and our U.S. footprint has doubled in size,” Downe said. “During the year over 600 U.S. bank branches have been refreshed; high visibility BMO signage and promotion have been put in place; and 1,370 bank machines were raised to a new standard. Our reputation as a consistent commercial lender continues to grow. The core commercial and industrial portfolio in the U.S. has now increased in four sequential quarters - up 15 percent from a year ago.”