May 27, 2020, 6:40 a.m. EDT

Bank of Montreal profit falls, preps for bad loans

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By Dieter Holger

The Bank of Montreal said Wednesday that profit declined sharply in the latest quarter after it set aside nearly a billion more Canadian dollars to fortify itself against borrowers hit by coronavirus pandemic.

The Montreal, Canada-based bank reported earnings of C$689 million ($501 million), or C$1.00 a share, in the second quarter, down from C$1.5 billion, or C$2.26 a share, a year ago.

Adjusted earnings were C$1.04 a share, below the C$1.22 analysts polled by FactSet had expected.

The bank reported revenues of C$5.26 billion in the quarter, a sharp drop from $C6.21 billion in the prior year. That came below the analyst forecast of C$5.95 billion.

The lender said it set aside C$1.12 billion to cover loan losses, marking a more than sixfold increase from $C176 million a year ago.

"We demonstrated the resilience of our earnings power as we earned through the impact of market volatility and prudent loan loss provisioning," said Darryl White, chief executive of BMO Financial Group, in prepared remarks.

The bank said it remains "highly uncertain" how much further the coronavirus pandemic will hit its future earnings.

Write to Dieter Holger at dieter.holger@wsj.com; @dieterholger

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