RBC hikes dividend, beats expectations despite U.S. tax hit

TORONTO — Royal Bank of Canada hiked its dividend as it reported a first-quarter profit of $3 billion, which was relatively flat compared with a year ago but beat expectations.

The Toronto-based lender increased its quarterly payment to common shareholders by three cents to 94 cents per share.

The dividend increase came as the lender saw strong results across its divisions for the quarter ended Jan. 31, but also recorded a writedown due to U.S. corporate tax cuts.

The bank’s profit for the three-month period ended Jan. 31 amounted to $2.01 per diluted share, compared with $3 billion or $1.97 per diluted share during the same period a year earlier when it had more shares outstanding.

The results in the most recent quarter included a $178-million writedown related to deferred tax assets due to U.S. corporate tax cuts.

After adjustments, Canada’s biggest lender by market capitalization earned $2.05 per diluted share, beating the $1.99 expected by analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.

“Strong client activity and volume growth across most businesses drove our first quarter earnings of $3 billion while we absorbed the write-down related to the U.S. Tax Reform,” chief executive Dave McKay in a statement.

“Our strategy for sustainable growth is built on prudently managing risks and effectively deploying capital for strong returns through the cycle. We will continue to invest smartly and work hard to earn the trust of our clients, employees and communities.”

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