05/31/2012 06:52 EDT | Updated 07/31/2012 05:12 EDT

CIBC Second-Quarter Profit Nets $811 Million, Defies Analyst Expectations

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TORONTO - Profits at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (TSX:CM) rose six per cent to $811 million in the second quarter, beating analyst estimates by a wide margin as CIBC's retail banking operations gained strength.

The bank said Thursday it earned $1.90 per diluted share. The results are up from $767 million or $1.80 a share in the comparable period last year.

On an adjusted basis, CIBC's earnings were $2 per share, well above analyst expectations of $1.88 per share, according to figures compiled by Thomson Reuters.

Shares of the bank rose $1.33 to $71.66 in late morning trading at the Toronto Stock Exchange.

CIBC's total revenue increased two per cent to just under $3.1 billion, including $2 billion from its core retail and business banking operations.

"CIBC has delivered a solid quarter of consistent and sustainable earnings growth," CIBC chief executive Gerry McCaughey told analysts in a conference call.

"We experienced strong results in each of our business units, generated positive operating leverage and underpinned our performance with strong fundamentals, particularly capital."

CIBC's core business in retail and business banking provided $556 million of the net profit, up from $496 million a year earlier, as more Canadians secured new mortgages.

Provisions for credit losses, or money set aside for bad loans, increased to $308 million, up by $63 million from a year ago.

In its outlook for 2012, the bank warned that its retail and business banking operations could face "slightly slower growth in demand for mortgages, while consumer credit demand could continue to see limited growth."

The bank's wealth management operations also showed a higher profit, which rose to $79 million from $73 million.

Wholesale banking profits were down to $131 million, a drop of $9 million over a year ago, partly on a higher provision for credit losses.

Barclays analyst John Aiken said in a note that CIBC's results were "well ahead of expectations."

"While a myriad of charges marred reported earnings once again, the core earnings beat appears to be a result of very strong cost containment," Aiken wrote.

"This is a strong performance and has been a consistent theme for CIBC for several quarters."

The bank also said it continues to shop around its FirstLine mortgage-broker unit, a plan it announced in March, noting that it was exiting the broken business in favour of selling CIBC-branded mortgages, which have better margins.

It is also secured a sale of its private wealth management business in Hong Kong and Singapore, with assets under management of $2 billion, under a transaction is expects to close by early 2013.

CIBC has more than 42,000 employees across its operations, including retail and wholesale banking and financial services.

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