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Press release from CNW Group

Equitable Group reports record 2012 earnings on continued solid quarterly growth

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Equitable Group reports record 2012 earnings on continued solid quarterly growth21:11 EST Tuesday, February 26, 2013TORONTO, Feb. 26, 2013 /CNW/ - Equitable Group Inc. (TSX: ETC and ETC.PR.A) ("Equitable" or the "Company") today reported record earnings for the 12 months ended December 31, 2012 as solid growth continued in the fourth quarter.2012 SUMMARYNet income increased 31% to a record $81.2 million from $62.2 million in 2011Diluted earnings per share ("EPS") increased 32% to $5.11 from $3.88 in 2011Return on Equity ("ROE") increased to 18.7% from 16.5% in 2011Book value per share increased 18% to $29.83 from $25.18 at December 31, 2011Adjusted for certain non-recurring items in 2011 and 2012, diluted EPS increased by 17.7% in 2012, and ROE increased to 17.9% in 2012 from 17.4% for 2011.FOURTH QUARTER SUMMARYNet income grew 18% to $20.1 million from $17.0 million in the fourth quarter of 2011Diluted EPS increased 18% to $1.26 from $1.07 in the fourth quarter of 2011ROE was 17.3% and unchanged from a year ago"Equitable delivered record results in 2012 and ended the year as we started - with another solid quarter of earnings growth driving outstanding ROE performance," said Andrew Moor, President and CEO. "ROE is a tell-tale sign of the effectiveness of our strategies and at 18.7% for the year, provides the most important indicator of our progress and potential. Our five-year ROE average now stands at 17.1%, demonstrating a clear track record of consistently creating value for our shareholders.  We are also pleased to note that even with two dividend increases in 2012, we retained approximately 90% of net income available for common shareholders to fuel future growth with the result that book value also increased 18%. We will follow this winning formula to create substantial value for our shareholders in coming quarters."FOURTH QUARTER OPERATING HIGHLIGHTSCore Lending mortgage principal(comprised of Single Family and Commercial Lending) amounted to $5.2 billion, up 21% or $895 million year over year, while fourth quarter Core Lending production increased 17% year over year to $649 millionSingle Family Lending Services mortgage principal grew 46% to a record $3 billion at year-end 2012 and represented 59% of Core Lending mortgage principal compared to 49% a year ago.  Single Family Lending Services fourth quarter production of $458 million was 27% higher than in the fourth quarter of 2011Commercial Lending Services mortgage principal was $2.1 billion at year-end 2012 compared to $2.2 billion a year ago. Fourth quarter production was $190 million, down marginally from $193 million a year agoSecuritization Financing mortgage principal increased 3% or $143 million from Q4 of 2011 to $5.4 billion at year-end 2012.  Fourth quarter production was up year-over-year by 567% to $511 million, which reflected the Company's renewed emphasis on the business. Also in the quarter, the Company securitized $171 million of mortgages that qualified for balance sheet de-recognition, on which it earned $1.2 million of gains on sale.Realized net loan losses were just $0.4 million in the fourth quarter or less than 0.7 basis points of non-securitized mortgage principal, reflecting the quality of the Company's mortgage portfolio, and its diligent credit management and collection efforts. Other fourth quarter credit metrics were also solid:Mortgages in arrears 90 days or more were 0.32% of total principal outstanding at quarter end, in line with historical norms but above 0.22% a year ago, while early stage delinquencies - a leading indicator of losses - were 0.31% compared to 0.30% of total principal at September 30, 2012 and 0.22% a year agoNet impaired mortgages were just 0.30% of total mortgage assets at year-end 2012 down from 0.35% at the end of the third quarter and 0.25% a year agoFor all of 2012, the Company realized net loan losses of $1.0 million, down 88% from $8.6 million in 2011.DIVIDEND DECLARATIONSThe Company's Board of Directors today declared a quarterly dividend in the amount of $0.14 per common share, payable April 4, 2013, to common shareholders of record at the close of business March 15, 2013. This amount is consistent with the latest dividend increase announced in the second quarter of 2012 and is 17% higher than the dividends declared in the fourth quarter of 2011. In total, the Company increased its dividends declared to $0.52 per common share in 2012 from $0.45 in 2011 reflecting, in part, the Board's assessment of Equitable's ability to fund future asset expansion and its positive outlook.The Board declared a quarterly dividend in the amount of $0.453125 per preferred share, payable March 31, 2013, to preferred shareholders of record at the close of business March 15, 2013.CAPITALEquitable Trust's year-end 2012 total capital ratio was 17.4%, well in excess of current and proposed regulatory minimums. During the fourth quarter, the Company successfully raised $65 million of debentures at a rate of 5.399% in anticipation of upcoming debt maturities and redemptions, and in advance of new rules for capital instruments that came into effect for most Canadian financial institutions in 2013. This additional capital caused Equitable's total capital ratio and its interest expenses to increase during the final quarter of 2012.  On January 3, 2013, Equitable repaid a $12.5 million term loan and $9.5 million of subordinated debentures, bearing interest rates of 6.41% and 7.1% interest respectively.  Interest expenses on debentures and term loans will consequently decline slightly in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the fourth quarter of 2012. The Company will begin to report new capital metrics required by Basel III and Canadian regulators such as Common Equity Tier I ("CET1") beginning in the first quarter of 2013. The minimum CET1 standard is 7.0%. On a pro forma basis, Equitable Trust's CET1 ratio was 12.2% at year-end 2012.LOOKING AHEADEquitable entered 2013 with good momentum and strong capital levels, which provide it with the ongoing potential to grow earnings and deliver ROE in the high teens.  The Company will continue to create value by providing outstanding service and thoughtful product solutions to the Canadian alternative mortgage marketplace."The ability to generate higher earnings at a consistently attractive ROE is well-entrenched at Equitable and we believe we can continue to demonstrate it in today's mortgage marketplace," said Mr. Moor. "Entering 2013, we are well aware of softening in segments of Canadian real estate but believe that we have effective risk mitigation strategies in place, including the emphasis we've placed on urban centres with positive economic and demographic prospects. Furthermore, our potential is strengthened by our growing relationships with the country's mortgage brokers and the enhanced competitive position we now enjoy as a result of recent marketplace reaction to regulatory changes. These factors are leading more consumers to seek our product solutions. In short, all of the ingredients are in place for ongoing value creation."The Company expects non-interest expenses to increase in 2013 to a level that supports the efficient growth of the business and sustains high levels of customer and broker service while allowing for continued strength in its operating margins."We expect NIM to remain stable in 2013," said Tim Wilson, Vice President and CFO. "Overall NIMs should benefit from the ongoing emphasis we've placed on growing our Core Lending book and the resulting shift to higher return single family mortgages. The combination of stable NIMs and our operational efficiency supports further performance improvements as we grow.  While changes in business mix in favour of single family mortgage lending and the regulatory environment have added to expense levels, our productivity ratio of 30.2% in 2012 puts us among the most cost-effective lenders in Canada."EQUITABLE BANKTo support its strategy, in 2013 Equitable Trust also intends to apply to the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Canada ("OSFI") and to the Minister of Finance for consent to convert from a trust company operating under the Trust and Loans Companies Act to a Schedule I bank operating under the Bank Act.  If approved, Equitable Trust intends to operate as Equitable Bank. The Company believes that, in the longer term, operating as a bank will support the development of the business, promote efficiencies, appeal to a new generation of borrowers and depositors, and may provide advantages in raising capital.  Such a conversion would have no impact on Equitable's strong capital position or its current business model.  The conversion application requires approvals from OSFI and the Minister of Finance, Canada. There is no assurance as to when or if these approvals will be received.Q4 CONFERENCE CALLThe Company will hold its fourth quarter conference call and webcast at 10:00 a.m. ET Wednesday, February 27, 2013. To access the call live, please dial in five minutes prior to 416-644-3415.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 6, 2013 and it can be accessed by dialing 416-640-1917 and entering passcode 4590933 followed by the number sign. The webcast will also be archived on the Company's website for three months.CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS          ($ THOUSANDS)                  As at December 312012 2011       Assets     Cash and cash equivalents$379,447 $170,845Restricted cash 63,601  83,156Securities purchased under reverse repurchase agreements 78,551  9,967Investments 439,480  390,340Mortgages receivable 5,266,591  4,262,147Mortgages receivable - securitized 5,342,881  5,314,940Securitization retained interests 7,263  -  Other assets 23,626  25,618 $11,601,440 $10,257,013      Liabilities and Shareholders' Equity     Liabilities:      Deposits  $5,651,717 $4,627,904 Securitization liabilities 5,261,670  5,100,921 Obligations under repurchase agreements 9,882  -   Deferred tax liabilities 5,498  7,790 Other liabilities 40,931  28,587 Bank term loan 12,500  12,500 Debentures 117,671  52,671  11,099,869  9,830,373      Shareholders' equity:      Preferred shares 48,494  48,494 Common shares 134,224  129,771 Contributed surplus 5,003  4,718 Retained earnings 323,737  254,006 Accumulated other comprehensive loss (9,887)  (10,349)  501,571  426,640       $11,601,440 $10,257,013CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF INCOME     ($ THOUSANDS, EXCEPT PER SHARE AMOUNTS)           Years ended December 312012 2011      Interest income:      Mortgages$245,122 $206,987 Mortgages - securitized 214,613  213,604 Investments 10,272  10,307 Other 6,520  4,403  476,527  435,301Interest expense:      Deposits 131,042  115,314 Securitization liabilities 184,260  181,694 Bank term loans 813  812 Debentures 4,212  3,493 Other 30  217  320,357  301,530Net interest income 156,170  133,771Provision for credit losses 7,992  7,183Net interest income after provision for credit losses 148,178  126,588Other income:      Fees and other income 3,970  3,545 Net gain on investments 629  144 Gains on securitization activities and income from securitization retained interests 2,010  -   6,609  3,689Net interest and other income 154,787  130,277Non-interest expenses:      Compensation and benefits 28,246  22,856 Other 21,930  22,858  50,176  45,714Income before income taxes and the undernoted fair value gain (loss) 104,611  84,563Fair value gain (loss) on derivative financial instruments - securitization activities 63  (648)Income before income taxes 104,674  83,915Income taxes      Current 25,759  21,026 Deferred  (2,292)  703  23,467  21,729Net income$ 81,207 $62,186      Earnings per share      Basic$5.15 $3.91 Diluted$5.11 $3.88      CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF COMPREHENSIVE INCOME     ($ THOUSANDS)             Years ended December 312012 2011        Net income$81,207 $62,186        Other comprehensive (loss) income:             Available for sale investments:     Net unrealized gains from change in fair value 1,492  1,470Reclassification of net gains to income (1,709)  (385)    (217)  1,085Income tax recovery (expense) 57  (304)    (160)  781        Cash flow hedges:     Net unrealized losses from change in fair value (1,521)  (13,684)Reclassification of net losses (gains) to income 2,365  (77)    844  (13,761)Income tax (expense) recovery (222)  3,860    622  (9,901)Total other comprehensive income (loss) 462  (9,120)Total comprehensive income$81,669 $53,066CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF CHANGES IN SHAREHOLDERS' EQUITY    ($ THOUSANDS)                         2012Preferred sharesCommon sharesContributed surplusRetained earningsAccumulated other comprehensive income (loss) Total             Balance, beginning of year$48,494$129,771$4,718$254,006$(10,349)$426,640Net income -  -  -  81,207 -  81,207Other comprehensive income, net of tax -  -  -  -  462 462Reinvestment of dividends -  817 -  -  -  817Exercise of stock options -  3,068 -  -  -  3,068Dividends:             Preferred shares -  -  -  (3,625) -  (3,625) Common shares -  -  -  (7,851) -  (7,851)Stock-based compensation -  -  853 -  -  853Transfer relating to the exercise of stock options -  568 (568) -  -  - Balance, end of year$48,494$134,224$5,003$323,737$(9,887)$501,571             2011Preferred sharesCommonsharesContributedsurplusRetainedearningsAccumulatedothercomprehensiveincome (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)Reinvestment of dividends -  582 -  -  -  582Exercise 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)$426,640CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF CASH FLOWS($ THOUSANDS)           Years ended December 312012 2011      CASH FLOWS FROM OPERATING ACTIVITIES     Net income for the year$81,207 $62,186Adjustments to determine cash flows relating to operating activities:      Financial instruments at fair value through income 11,930  2,857 Securitization gains (2,005)  -  Depreciation of capital assets 1,015  712 Provision for credit losses 7,992  7,183 Net gain (loss) on sale or redemption of investments 823  (144) Income taxes 23,467  21,729 Income taxes paid (18,791)  (18,280) Stock-based compensation 853  961 Amortization of premiums/discounts on investments 2,808  3,273 Net increase in mortgages receivable (1,380,351)  (1,363,900) Net increase in deposits 1,023,813  749,051 Change in obligations related to investment sold under repurchase agreements 9,882  -  Net change in securities purchased and sold under reverse repurchase agreements (68,584)  64,941 Net change in securitization liability 160,749  569,241 Net interest income, excluding non-cash items (192,678)  (176,923) Interest received 474,547  431,207 Interest paid (305,303)  (264,312) Other assets (942)  (28,756) Other liabilities 6,854  5,981 Dividends received 23,434  10,028Cash flows (used in) from operating activities (139,280)  77,035      CASH FLOWS FROM FINANCING ACTIVITIES      Issuance of debentures 65,000  -  Dividends paid on preferred shares (3,625)  (3,625) Dividends paid on common shares (6,709)  (5,853) Proceeds from issuance of common shares 3,068  943Cash flows from (used in) financing activities 57,734  (8,535)      CASH FLOWS FROM INVESTING ACTIVITIES      Purchase of investments (230,037)  (138,934) Proceeds on sale or redemption of investments 185,456  105,730 Net change in Canada Housing Trust re-investment accounts (19,901)  (20,762) Change in restricted cash 19,555  3,414 Proceeds from loan securitization 335,661  -  Securitization retained interests 212  -  Purchase of capital assets (798)  (2,345)Cash flows from (used in) investing activities 290,148  (52,897)Net increase in cash and cash equivalents 208,602  15,603Cash and cash equivalents, beginning of year 170,845  155,242Cash and cash equivalents, end of year$379,447 $170,845      ABOUT EQUITABLE GROUP INC. Equitable Group Inc. is a niche mortgage lender. Our primary 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 actively originates mortgages across Canada. It serves single family, small and large commercial borrowers and their mortgage advisors. It also serves the investing public as a provider of insured Guaranteed Investment Certificates. Equitable Trust is active in providing GICs across all Canadian provinces and territories. Equitable Group's 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 of this report including those entitled "Looking Ahead", 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 (including the proposal to convert Equitable Trust into a Schedule I Bank), strategies and initiatives, financial result 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", "might" or "will be taken", "occur" or "be achieved." 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, the nature of our customers and rates of default, and competition as well as those factors discussed under the heading "Risk Management" in the Management's Discussion and Analysis and 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. SOURCE: Equitable Group Inc.For further information: Andrew Moor President and CEO 416-513-7000 Tim Wilson Vice President and CFO 416-513-7000