Press Releases

National Bank knows how to seize opportunities

Montreal, 2 March 2005 -

At the Annual Meeting of Shareholders held today, Réal Raymond, President and Chief Executive Officer of National Bank of Canada, gave examples of how the Bank has further strengthened its position by seeing and seizing opportunities in the markets where it operates.

The numbers bear this out.  Since 1999, earnings per share have risen by 80% from $2.28 to $4.10 in the fiercely competitive and fast-changing financial industry.  In addition, the Bank’s dividend more than doubled during the same period, from $0.70 to $1.42. As for the Bank’s price/earnings ratio, it went from 7.9 times earnings per share to 11.9. Over the same five-year period, the Bank’s share price climbed from $17.90 to $48.78, for an increase of 173%, the largest gain of all the major banks.

By executing its action plan of a super-regional bank in a professional, thorough and disciplined manner and by delivering the expected results, “the Bank has caught the attention of financial markets and strengthened their confidence in our ability to meet their increasingly demanding expectations,” noted Mr. Raymond.

Initiatives that are yielding solid results

In recent years, National Bank has implemented an action plan that has redefined the entire organization. “Since 1999, we have diversified our revenues, which have expanded at an average annual rate of 8%,” recalled the President and CEO. We have also cleaned up our loan portfolio and, in the process, significantly reduced our provision for credit losses.  As for our productivity, we have proven year after year that we can be as efficient as larger institutions. All of these achievements have paved the way for average growth in net income of 11.7% over five years,” explained Mr. Raymond.

Initiatives aimed at improving customer satisfaction, engaging employees and enhancing efficiency have also contributed to the Bank’s performance.

Staying on course and capitalizing on our strengths

In accordance with its vision, the Bank will actively pursue its business plan by staying on course to meet its main objectives and further developing the strategies already underway.

The Bank will continue to concentrate on the most immediate opportunities, both in terms of its areas of expertise and geographical markets. Profitability will remain the primary concern whether growth is achieved organically or through acquisitions.

For the President and CEO, banking operations and wealth management are some of the avenues of growth the Bank intends to further explore. The performance of our branch sales force, and the increased presence of financial planners in particular, combined with innovative products such as the new “All-In-One” mortgage option, has enabled the Bank to achieve in 2004 objectives originally set for 2006.

In addition, the success of banking distribution agreements with partners confirmed the potential of these agreements to penetrate other Canadian markets. What’s more, as Quebec’s leading bank for SMEs, National Bank is ideally positioned to manage the personal holdings of entrepreneurs.

To serve its commercial clientele, the Bank deployed a network of deposit account managers and introduced the new “BusinessFlex” solutions, transaction services specially designed to meet the needs of small businesses and the self-employed.  The Bank also launched a specialized financing unit for the promising health sector.  In Ontario and Western Canada, strong growth in loans to the energy sector and farm and agri-food operations is further proof that the Bank is seizing real opportunities in select markets.

The financial markets sector is another area where we intend to deepen our presence. “After strengthening our corporate financing activities, making acquisitions and adding new expertise in areas such as alternative management and credit derivatives, we have built a balanced portfolio that enables us to tap into the many different opportunities financial markets have to offer,” remarked Mr. Raymond.

In closing, Mr. Raymond shared the Bank’s vision statement with shareholders, adding that it reaffirms the core values that motivate all those who contribute to the Bank’s success.  Accordingly, this vision states that “National Bank of Canada seeks to be recognized as a prosperous, efficient and progressive financial institution renowned for its leadership, innovation and service quality that builds on its position of strength in Quebec to continue its expansion elsewhere in Canada and in other select markets.”

In the spirit of the vision statement, the Bank is committed to achieving its ambitions, offering its clients superior service by an engaged workforce and meeting the high expectations of its shareholders.

About National Bank
National Bank of Canada is an integrated group which provides comprehensive financial services to consumers, small and medium-sized enterprises and large corporations in its core market, while offering specialized services to its customers elsewhere in the world. National Bank offers a full array of banking services, including corporate and investment banking. It is an active player on international capital markets and, through its subsidiaries, is involved in securities brokerage, insurance and wealth management, as well as mutual fund and retirement plan management. National Bank has more than $90 billion in assets and, together with its subsidiaries, employs close to 17,000 people. The Bank’s securities are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (NA: TSX). For more information, visit the Bank’s website at www.nbc.ca.

Information: (The telephone number provided below is for the exclusive use of journalists and other media representatives):

Denis Dubé
Director – Public Relations
National Bank of Canada
Tel.: (514) 394-8644