Equitable Group reports 2011 annual, fourth quarter results

TORONTO, Feb. 28, 2012 /CNW/ - Equitable Group Inc. (TSX: ETC and ETC.PR.A) ("Equitable" or the "Company") today reported its financial results for the three and 12 months ended December 31, 2011, including solid earnings performance on strong growth in its conventional single family mortgage portfolio.


  • Diluted earnings per share ("EPS") increased 11.5% to $3.88 compared to $3.48 in 2010;
  • Adjusted EPS, excluding a third quarter 2011 operational provision (the "provision") was $4.15 compared to $3.83 in 2010;
  • Adjusted net income was $62.7 million, or $66.3 million excluding the provision, compared to $61.1 million in 2010;
  • Net interest income was $133.8 million, 11.5% higher than the $119.9 million achieved in 2010, with net interest margin ("NIM") at 2.5% on non-securitized assets and 0.5% on securitized assets;
  • Total mortgage assets were a record $9.6 billion at year end, up 16.5% from December 31, 2010;
  • Conventional mortgage principal increased 22.9% year over year to $4.3 billion, inclusive of a 33.4% increase in single family mortgage principal;
  • Mortgage production increased 15.3% to $2.8 billion, inclusive of record conventional single family mortgage production of $1.2 billion (20.6% higher than in 2010);
  • Return on equity ("ROE") was 16.5% (16.6% on an adjusted basis, 17.5% excluding the provision) compared to 17.0% (18.6% adjusted) in 2010;
  • Productivity ratio on a taxable equivalent basis ("TEB") was 32.4% (28.8% excluding the provision) compared to 26.1% in 2010;
  • Equitable Trust's year-end total capital ratio was 15.8% (including its collective allowance);
  • Book value per share of $25.18 grew 13.0% from $22.28 at December 31, 2010;
  • Equitable declared $0.45 in dividends per common share in 2011, up 12.5% from $0.40 in 2010, reflecting increases the Board announced in the first and third quarters of 2011.

"Equitable achieved exactly what we set out to do in 2011," said Andrew Moor, President and Chief Executive Officer, "grow our conventional mortgage book with emphasis on single family, expand our national presence, deliver excellent customer service, sustain credit quality and translate these advancements into solid earnings for our shareholders. It is clear to us that our current strategy, including the alignment realized between our mortgage production activities and our goal of optimizing risk-adjusted returns, will serve our shareholders very well going forward."


The Company's Board of Directors declared a quarterly common share dividend of $0.12 per share, payable on April 4, 2012, to common shareholders of record at the close of business on March 15, 2012. This amount is consistent with the dividend of $0.12 per share declared in the previous quarter, and on an annualized basis represents a 6.7% increase over the dividends declared in 2011. The Board also declared a quarterly dividend in the amount of $0.453125 per preferred share, payable on March 31, 2012, to preferred shareholders of record at the close of business on March 15, 2012.


Equitable's results in the fourth quarter were strong and demonstrated the fundamental operating strength of the business, particularly in the single family residential mortgage segment.  Results in the quarter were fuelled by growth in the Company's mortgage book combined with its stable NIM.

Consistent with its annual results, comparatives to 2010 were impacted by several non-recurring items that augmented the Company's performance in Q4 of the prior year, the majority of which are only visible under new IFRS accounting standards.  Specifically, Q4 2010 benefitted from a lower effective tax rate, $4.1 million of higher than normal prepayment charge income from two discharged mortgages, and $5.8 million of fair value gains on derivatives.

In the fourth quarter:

  • Diluted EPS was $1.07 compared to $0.82 in the third quarter of 2011 and $1.54 in the fourth quarter of 2010;
  • Adjusted EPS on a diluted basis was $1.10 compared to $0.84 in the third quarter and $1.28 in the fourth quarter a year ago;
  • Adjusted net income was $17.5 million compared to $13.6 million in the third quarter of 2011, and $20.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2010;
  • Adjusted net income available to common shareholders was $16.6 million compared to $12.7 million in the third quarter and $23.2 million in the fourth quarter a year ago;
  • Net interest income was $35.3 million (1.4% NIM) compared to $34.8 million (1.4% NIM) in the third quarter of 2011 and $32.8 million (1.6% NIM) in the fourth quarter a year ago, and was higher in 2011 even with the $4.3 million of additional prepayment income in 2010, which is included in net interest income;
  • Adjusted ROE was 17.4% compared to 14.0% in the third quarter of 2011 (17.3% excluding the provision) and 23.8% in the fourth quarter of 2010;
  • Productivity ratio - TEB was 29.7% compared to 42.8% in the third quarter of 2011 (29.2% excluding the provision) and 25.2% in the fourth quarter of 2010.

In commenting on fourth quarter performance, Mr. Moor said: "This was a solid finish to a record year, and our strong and growing mortgage book provide Equitable with very positive momentum for 2012."


  • Single Family Lending Services mortgage principal amounted to a record $2.1 billion at year end, 33.4% higher than at the end of 2010 on growth in production in each quarter of 2011. During the fourth quarter, this business line originated $345.6 million of conventional mortgages, 19.7% higher than in the fourth quarter of 2010;
  • Commercial Mortgage - Broker Services conventional mortgage principal at year end was a record $1.0 billion, 20.8% higher than at the end of 2010, as it originated $72.2 million in the fourth quarter compared to $67.2 million in the same quarter of 2010;
  • Commercial Lending Services conventional mortgage principal at year end was $1.2 billion, 9.3% higher than at the end of 2010, as it originated $120.3 million of conventional mortgages in the fourth quarter compared to $37.4 million in Q4 2010.

Overall, conventional mortgage principal outstanding amounted to 44.7% of total mortgage principal at year end, compared to 42.5% at year-end 2010.


During the fourth quarter of 2011, production of CMHC-insured mortgages amounted to $105.6 million compared to $246.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2010, consistent with the Company's plan to substantially reduce securitization activity in line with its emphasis on conventional mortgage asset growth. At the end of the year, securitized mortgage assets represented 55.3% of mortgage principal outstanding ($5.3 billion) compared to 57.5% ($4.7 billion) at year-end 2010.


Equitable sustained its track record of low realized loan losses during 2011 and in the fourth quarter saw improvements in key credit metrics:

  • Mortgage principal in arrears 90 days or more was 0.22% compared to 0.46% at December 31, 2010;
  • Net impaired mortgages were 0.24% of total mortgage principal at year-end 2011, compared to 0.42% at year-end 2010.

Management remains comfortable that provisions taken to date adequately provide for the risk of loss.


Over the past five years, while remaining focused on its core niches, the Company has increased its presence in western Canada and Quebec to complement its solid leadership position in other urban Canadian markets. As a result, 58.3% of the Company's mortgages were secured on properties located in Ontario,  14.9% were located in Alberta, 13.1% of were located in Quebec, 5.8% in British Columbia, 1.5% were located in Manitoba, and the balance in other selected regions of Canada.


"Industry forecasts suggest that Canadian real estate prices will be stable in 2012," said Mr. Moor, "nonetheless we are prepared for the possibility of a soft landing for the market as a result of our proactive, risk-sensitive lending practices. In the context of our own outlook, we intend to continue prudently growing conventional mortgage production in chosen markets over the coming year. Combined with our already sizeable mortgage portfolio balances, and the activities taken to strengthen our business, we are confident in our ability to grow earnings, maintain our strong capital position and keep our credit metrics well within an acceptable range. On balance, our outlook is very positive and we will continue to position Equitable as the lender of choice for Canada's mortgage broker community, business-for-self Canadians and newcomers to our country."

In commenting on interest rate margins, Equitable's Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Tim Wilson said: "Our expectation is that the Company's net interest margin will remain stable in 2012, reflecting Bank of Canada policy decisions that appear to favour a hold-the-line approach to rates and steady funding markets. Our NIM outlook also takes into account the fact that we intend to maintain liquidity at approximately the same levels as in 2011. While this marginally dampens NIM growth, it ensures we are well-positioned to manage any unforeseen events in Canadian and international capital markets."


Results for both reporting periods were prepared using International Financial Reporting Standards ("IFRS"), with a transition date of January 1, 2010. As a result, prior period comparative information in this news release reflects conversion from previous Canadian Generally Accepted Accounting Principles ("GAAP") to IFRS. In addition to being affected by differences in the method of accounting for securitized assets, the restatement of the Company's financial results from previous Canadian GAAP to IFRS is affected by differences in the method of accounting for the related derivatives that are within its securitization activities, including the activities it undertakes to hedge interest rate risk associated with mortgage commitments and mortgages issued but awaiting securitization, as well as the interest rate risk associated with the respective securitization liabilities. In order to help readers, the Company analyzes its 2011 performance by comparing it to 2010 on an adjusted basis, which removes gains and losses associated with unmatched derivative measurement accounting. Adjusted figures are non-GAAP financial measures and do not remove the operational provision taken in the third quarter. Non-GAAP measures are not calculated in accordance with GAAP, are not defined by GAAP, and do not have standardized meanings that would ensure consistency and comparability between companies using these measures. For further information on Non-GAAP measures used in this report can be found under the Non-GAAP Financial Measures section of the Company's Management's Discussion and Analysis for the three months and year ended December 31, 2011.


The Company will hold its fourth quarter conference call and webcast at 10:00 a.m. ET Wednesday February 29, 2012. To access the call live, please dial in five minutes prior to 416-644-3414. To access a listen-only version of the webcast, please log on to www.equitabletrust.com under Investor Relations.

A replay of the call will be available until March 7, 2012 and it can be accessed by dialing 416-640-1917 and entering passcode 4508034 followed by the number sign. Alternatively, the call will be archived on the Company's website for three months.

($ THOUSANDS)              
  December 31, 2011   December 31, 2010 January 1, 2010
Cash and cash equivalents $ 170,845   $ 155,242 $ 389,170
Restricted cash   83,156     86,570   25,372
Investments   400,307     413,330   302,292
Mortgages receivable   4,262,147     3,468,507   2,763,020
Mortgages receivable - securitized   5,314,940     4,748,794   4,137,247
Other assets   25,618     11,686   15,191
  $ 10,257,013   $ 8,884,129 $ 7,632,292
Liabilities and Shareholders' Equity              
   Deposits $ 4,627,904   $ 3,878,853 $ 3,332,319
   Securitization liabilities   5,100,921     4,531,680   3,885,187
   Deferred tax liabilities   7,790     7,086   5,191
   Other liabilities   28,587     19,884   14,959
   Bank term loans   12,500     12,500   27,500
   Subordinated debentures   52,671     52,671   37,671
    9,830,373     8,502,674   7,302,827
Shareholders' equity:              
   Preferred shares   48,494     48,494   48,494
   Common shares   129,771     128,068   127,336
   Contributed surplus   4,718     3,935   3,267
   Retained earnings   254,006     202,187   155,890
   Accumulated other comprehensive loss   (10,349)     (1,229)   (5,522)
    426,640     381,455   329,465
  $ 10,257,013   $ 8,884,129 $ 7,632,292

Years ended December 31 2011   2010
Interest income:          
     Mortgages $ 206,987   $ 178,114
     Mortgages - securitized   213,604     199,980
     Investments   10,307     8,683
     Other   4,403     3,235
    435,301     390,012
Interest expense:          
     Deposits   115,314     96,462
     Securitization liabilities   181,694     168,796
     Bank term loans   812     2,059
     Subordinated debentures   3,493     2,626
     Other   217     120
    301,530     270,063
Net interest income   133,771     119,949
Provision for credit losses   7,183     9,748
Net interest income after provision for credit losses   126,588     110,201
Other income:          
     Fees and other income   3,545     3,003
     Net gain on investments   144     230
    3,689     3,233
Net interest and other income   130,277     113,434
Non-interest expenses:          
     Compensation and benefits   22,856     18,632
     Other   22,858     14,918
    45,714     33,550
Income before income taxes and fair value loss   84,563     79,884
Fair value loss on derivative financial instruments - securitization activities   (648)     (7,544)
Income before income taxes   83,915     72,340
Income taxes:          
     Current   21,026     16,004
     Deferred   703     443
    21,729     16,447
Net income $ 62,186   $ 55,893
Earnings per share:          
     Basic $ 3.91   $ 3.50
     Diluted $ 3.88   $ 3.48

($ THOUSANDS)          
Years ended December 31 2011   2010
Net income $ 62,186   $ 55,893
Other comprehensive (loss) income:          
Available for sale investments:          
Net unrealized gains from change in fair value   1,470     4,854
Reclassification of net (gains) losses to income   (385)     1,328
    1,085     6,182
Income tax expense   (304)     (1,889)
    781     4,293
Cash flow hedges:          
Net unrealized losses from change in fair value   (13,684)    
Reclassification of net gains to income   (77)    
Income tax recovery   3,860    
Total other comprehensive (loss) income   (9,120)     4,293
Total comprehensive income $ 53,066   $ 60,186

($ THOUSANDS)                                                  
2011         Preferred
income (loss)
Balance, beginning of year       $ 48,494     $ 128,068     $ 3,935     $ 202,187     $ (1,229)     $ 381,455
Net income                           62,186             62,186
Other comprehensive loss, net of tax                                 (9,120)       (9,120)
Contributions from reinvestment of dividends               582                         582
Contributions from exercise of stock options               943                         943
     Preferred shares                           (3,625)             (3,625)
     Common shares                           (6,742)             (6,742)
Stock-based compensation                     961                   961
Transfer relating to the exercise of stock options         -        178       (178)                  
Balance, end of year       $ 48,494     $ 129,771     $ 4,718     $ 254,006     $ (10,349)     $ 426,640
2010         Preferred
income (loss)
Balance, beginning of year       $ 48,494     $ 127,336     $ 3,267     $ 155,890     $ (5,522)     $ 329,465
Net income                           55,893             55,893
Other comprehensive income, net of tax                                 4,293       4,293
Contributions from reinvestment of dividends               357                         357
Contributions from exercise of stock options               318                         318
     Preferred shares                           (3,625)             (3,625)
     Common shares                           (5,971)             (5,971)
Stock-based compensation                     725                   725
Transfer relating to the exercise of stock options               57       (57)                   -
Balance, end of year       $ 48,494     $ 128,068     $ 3,935     $ 202,187     $ (1,229)     $ 381,455

($ THOUSANDS)          
Years ended December 31 2011   2010
Net income for the year $ 62,186   $ 55,893
Adjustments to determine cash flows relating to operating activities:          
    Financial instruments at fair value through income   2,857     1,875
    Depreciation of capital assets   712     609
    Provision for credit losses   7,183     9,748
    Net (gain) loss on sale or redemption of investments   (144)     2,504
    Income taxes   21,729     16,447
    Income taxes paid   (18,280)     (16,329)
    Stock-based compensation   961     725
    Amortization of premiums/discounts on investments   3,273     1,980
    Net increase in mortgages receivable   (1,363,900)     (1,326,268)
    Net increase in deposits   749,051     546,534
    Net change in securitization liability   569,241     646,493
    Net interest income, excluding non-cash items   (176,923)     (151,571)
    Interest paid   (264,312)     (237,976)
    Other assets   (28,756)     (417)
    Other liabilities   5,981     5,701
    Interest received   431,207     380,042
    Dividends received   10,028     9,505
Cash flows from (used in) operating activities   12,094     (54,505)
    Repayment of bank term loan       (15,000)
    Issuance of subordinated debentures       20,000
    Redemption of subordinated debentures       (5,000)
    Dividends paid on preferred shares   (3,625)     (3,625)
    Dividends paid on common shares   (5,853)     (5,610)
    Proceeds from issuance of common shares   943     318
Cash flows used in financing activities   (8,535)     (8,917)
    Purchase of investments   (138,934)     (524,988)
    Proceeds on sale or redemption of investments   105,730     371,777
    Net change in Canada Housing Trust re-investment accounts   (20,762)     (10,381)
    Purchase of investments under reverse repurchase agreements   (191,343)     (364,189)
    Proceeds on sale or redemption of investments purchased under reverse repurchase agreements   256,284     419,002
    Change in restricted cash   3,414     (61,198)
    Purchase of capital assets   (2,345)     (529)
Cash flows from (used in) investing activities   12,044     (170,506)
Net increase (decrease) in cash and cash equivalents   15,603     (233,928)
Cash and cash equivalents, beginning of year   155,242     389,170
Cash and cash equivalents, end of year $ 170,845   $ 155,242


Equitable Group Inc. is a niche mortgage lender. Our core business is first charge mortgage financing, which we offer through our wholly owned subsidiary, The Equitable Trust Company. Founded in 1970, Equitable Trust is a federally incorporated trust company. It serves single family, small and large commercial borrowers and their mortgage advisors. It also serves the investing public as a provider of Guaranteed Investment Certificates ("GICs"). Equitable is active in providing GICs across all Canadian provinces and territories. We actively originate mortgages across Canada, with offices in Ontario, Alberta and Quebec. Equitable Group's common and preferred shares are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbols ETC and ETC.PR.A, respectively. Visit the Company on line at www.equitabletrust.com and click on Investor Relations.


Statements made by the Company in the sections entitled "Annual Results", "Fourth Quarter Results", "Securitized Mortgages", "Credit Quality", "Looking Ahead" and "Adjusting For Accounting Changes", of this report, 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", "should", "might" or "will be taken", "occur", 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 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 at current levels, 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.

The Company's continuous disclosure materials, including interim filings, annual Management's Discussion and Analysis and Consolidated Financial Statements, Annual Information Form, Notice of Annual Meeting of Shareholders and Proxy Circular are available on the Company's website at www.equitabletrust.com and on SEDAR at www.sedar.com


SOURCE Equitable Group Inc.

For further information:

Tim Wilson
Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

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