Bank of Montreal posted fiscal first-quarter profit that beat analysts' estimates as contributions from its purchase of General Electric's transportation-finance business added to U.S. earnings.

Net income for the period ended Jan. 31 climbed 6.8% to $778 million, from a year earlier, Canada's fourth-largest lender by assets said Tuesday in a statement. Profit excluding some items was C$1.75 a share, compared with the C$1.72 average estimate of 15 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

"These results underline the benefits of our business mix, which is well diversified by geography and customer segment," Chief Executive William Downe, 63, said in the statement.

Bank of Montreal is the first major Canadian bank to report first-quarter results. The country's six largest lenders are expected to increase per-share adjusted earnings by an average of 1% from a year earlier, Mario Mendonca, a TD Securities analyst, said in a Feb. 9 note.

The December purchase of GE's transportation-finance business in the U.S. and Canada added about C$11.9 billion of net earning assets to the Toronto-based lender's commercial-banking unit. A stronger greenback relative to the Canadian dollar also aided earnings from U.S. businesses, including Chicago-based BMO Harris Bank.

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