November 27, 2018 / 12:02 PM / 18 days ago

UPDATE 3-Scotiabank optimistic of beating growth targets in 2019

* Scotiabank’s Q4 earnings miss market forecasts

* CFO says bank is seeing competition for deposits

* Bank to partner with Sagicor in Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago

* Deals will provide 10 bps boost to core tier 1 ratio (Adds executive comment from conference call, shares)

By Matt Scuffham

TORONTO, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Bank of Nova Scotia is optimistic of beating its growth targets next year, Chief Executive Brian Porter said after the bank posted fourth-quarter results which were marginally below forecasts on Tuesday.

Canada’s third-biggest lender reported adjusted earnings per share of C$1.77 in the quarter ended Oct. 31, up 8 percent but short of the average analyst forecast of C$1.79 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. Analysts blamed the miss on costs related to recent acquisitions.

Speaking to analysts on a conference call, Porter said he expected the bank to benefit from improved margins next year due to rising interest rates and a strong economic backdrop in its key markets.

“We are optimistic that we will continue to perform strongly and, again, exceed our medium-term objectives,” he said.

Shares in Scotiabank were up 0.3 percent in mid-morning trading, after initially dropping 0.5 percent.

The bank has targeted annual earnings growth of 7 percent or more in Canada next year and 9 percent from its international operations, stripping out currency movements.

Excluding one-off costs, net income rose by 13 percent to C$2.35 billion ($1.77 billion) in the latest quarter, compared with the average estimate by analysts of C$2.24 billion, according to IBES data.

For the full year, Scotiabank reported a 7 percent increase in earnings at its Canadian business to C$4.4 billion, helped by improved margins as it benefited from five Bank of Canada interest rate hikes since last summer and growth in customer deposits.

However, Canadian banking head James O’Sullivan told analysts the market for deposits was “quite competitive.”

Competition for deposits among Canadian banks was heating up for the first time since the financial crisis and could crimp margin growth, analysts said.

The bank also said on Tuesday it planned to exit nine countries in the Caribbean, including Antigua and Grenada, by selling its operations to Republic Financial Holdings.

It also plans to sell its insurance operations in Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago to Sagicor Financial.

The bank has been selling non-core businesses and focusing its international operations on the Pacific Alliance trading bloc of Peru, Mexico, Chile and Columbia, which now accounts for around a quarter of its revenue.

The transactions are not material to Scotiabank, it said, but will result in its core tier 1 capital ratio, a key measure of its financial strength, increasing by 10 basis points.

$1 = 1.3257 Canadian dollars Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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