02/26/2015 07:33 EST | Updated 04/28/2015 05:59 EDT

TD Bank raises dividend, reports first-quarter profit up from year ago

TORONTO - Toronto-Dominion Bank (TSX:TD) is taking a number of cost-cutting measures — including reorganizing its management structure — in light of economic challenges that threaten to hamper the bank's growth.

"This is simply a reality of today's slower growth world," chief executive Bharat Masrani told analysts in a call Thursday after the bank reported higher first-quarter results and a boost to its quarterly dividend.

TD Bank also plans to introduce more technology for efficiency, cut back on discretionary spending and review its bank branches and other parts of its business.

However, Masrani said the bank is being selective about its cost cutting as it doesn't want to compromise its long-term growth for the purpose of short-term gains.

"It will take some time before we see a meaningful impact to our expense base, but we expect to see an improvement in our efficiency in the medium term," he said.

Canada's top lenders are grappling with a number of headwinds, including a rapid decline in the price of oil and tight lending margins as interest rates hover near historic lows.

"Overall, 2015 will continue to be a tough and uncertain environment with increased regulatory expectations and intense competition on both sides of the border," Masrani said.

TD Bank said Thursday it will now pay a quarterly dividend of 51 cents per share, up from its previous rate of 47 cents.

The bank said it earned $2.06 billion or $1.09 per diluted share for the quarter ended Jan. 31 compared with a profit of $2.04 billion or $1.07 per diluted share a year ago.

Revenue totalled $7.61 billion, up from $7.57 billion.

On an adjusted basis, TD said it earned $2.12 billion or $1.12 per share, up from $2.02 billion or $1.06 per share a year ago.

Analysts were expecting earnings of $1.12 per share and $7.1 billion of revenue for the quarter, according to estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters.