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Press release from CNW Group

Equitable Group reports 2011 annual, fourth quarter results

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Equitable Group reports 2011 annual, fourth quarter results21:53 EST Tuesday, February 28, 2012TORONTO, 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.ANNUAL RESULTSDiluted 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."DIVIDEND DECLARATIONSThe 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.FOURTH QUARTER RESULTSEquitable'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."CONVENTIONAL MORTGAGE PORTFOLIOSingle 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.SECURITIZED MORTGAGESDuring 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.CREDIT QUALITYEquitable 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.REGIONAL DIVERSIFICATIONOver 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.LOOKING AHEAD"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."ADJUSTING FOR ACCOUNTING CHANGESResults 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.Q4 CONFERENCE CALLThe 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.CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS             CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS        ($ THOUSANDS)                  December 31, 2011 December 31, 2010January 1, 2010         Assets       Cash and cash equivalents$170,845 $155,242$389,170Restricted cash 83,156  86,570 25,372Investments 400,307  413,330 302,292Mortgages receivable 4,262,147  3,468,507 2,763,020Mortgages receivable - securitized 5,314,940  4,748,794 4,137,247Other assets 25,618  11,686 15,191 $10,257,013 $8,884,129$7,632,292        Liabilities and Shareholders' Equity       Liabilities:         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$7,632,292        CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF INCOME     ($ THOUSANDS, EXCEPT PER SHARE AMOUNTS)      .     Years ended December 312011 2010      Interest income:         Mortgages$206,987 $178,114    Mortgages - securitized 213,604  199,980    Investments 10,307  8,683    Other 4,403  3,235  435,301  390,012Interest expense:         Deposits 115,314  96,462    Securitization liabilities 181,694  168,796    Bank term loans 812  2,059    Subordinated debentures 3,493  2,626    Other 217  120  301,530  270,063Net interest income 133,771  119,949Provision for credit losses 7,183  9,748Net interest income after provision for credit losses 126,588  110,201Other income:         Fees and other income 3,545  3,003    Net gain on investments 144  230  3,689  3,233Net interest and other income 130,277  113,434Non-interest expenses:         Compensation and benefits 22,856  18,632    Other 22,858  14,918  45,714  33,550Income before income taxes and fair value loss 84,563  79,884Fair value loss on derivative financial instruments - securitization activities (648)  (7,544)Income before income taxes 83,915  72,340Income taxes:         Current 21,026  16,004    Deferred 703  443  21,729  16,447Net income$ 62,186 $55,893      Earnings per share:         Basic$3.91 $3.50    Diluted$3.88 $3.48CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF COMPREHENSIVE INCOME     ($ THOUSANDS)           Years ended December 312011 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  4,854Reclassification of net (gains) losses to income (385)  1,328  1,085  6,182Income 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)  -   (13,761)  - Income tax recovery 3,860  -   (9,901)  - Total other comprehensive (loss) income (9,120)  4,293Total comprehensive income$53,066 $60,186CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OFCHANGES IN SHAREHOLDERS' EQUITY  ($ THOUSANDS)                                                   2011    Preferredshares   Commonshares   Contributedsurplus   Retainedearnings   Accumulatedothercomprehensiveincome (loss)   Total                          Balance, beginning of year   $48,494  $128,068  $3,935  $202,187  $(1,229)  $381,455Net income    -    -    -    62,186   -    62,186Other comprehensive loss, net of tax    -    -    -    -    (9,120)   (9,120)Contributions from reinvestment of dividends    -    582   -    -    -    582Contributions from exercise of stock options    -    943   -    -    -    943Dividends:                             Preferred shares    -    -    -    (3,625)   -    (3,625)    Common shares    -    -    -    (6,742)   -    (6,742)Stock-based compensation    -    -    961   -    -    961Transfer 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    Preferredshares   Commonshares   Contributedsurplus   Retainedearnings   Accumulatedothercomprehensiveincome (loss)   Total                          Balance, beginning of year   $48,494  $127,336  $3,267  $155,890  $(5,522)  $329,465Net income    -    -    -    55,893   -    55,893Other comprehensive income, net of tax    -    -    -    -    4,293   4,293Contributions from reinvestment of dividends    -    357   -    -    -    357Contributions from exercise of stock options    -    318   -    -    -    318Dividends:                             Preferred shares    -    -    -    (3,625)   -    (3,625)    Common shares    -    -    -    (5,971)   -    (5,971)Stock-based compensation    -    -    725   -    -    725Transfer relating to the exercise of stock options    -    57   (57)   -    -    -Balance, end of year   $48,494  $128,068  $3,935  $202,187  $(1,229)  $381,455                          CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF CASH FLOWS($ THOUSANDS)           Years ended December 312011 2010CASH FLOWS FROM OPERATING ACTIVITIES     Net income for the year$62,186 $55,893Adjustments 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   9,505Cash flows from (used in) operating activities 12,094  (54,505)CASH FLOWS FROM FINANCING ACTIVITIES        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  318Cash flows used in financing activities (8,535)  (8,917)CASH FLOWS FROM INVESTING ACTIVITIES        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  389,170Cash and cash equivalents, end of year$170,845 $155,242ABOUT EQUITABLE GROUP INC. 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.CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTSStatements 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.  For further information: Tim Wilson Vice President and Chief Financial Officer 416-515-7000