Comerica rides rate hikes to 15% revenue growth in 4Q

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Comerica said Tuesday that its fourth-quarter profit fell 32% from the same period in 2017, to $112 million, after it took a $107 million adjustment on deferred taxes stemming from the recent passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Apart from that one-time expense, though, the Dallas company reported strong growth in revenue and net interest income and meaningful improvement in all of its key performance ratios. Adjusted for the allowance of its deferred taxes, earnings per share climbed 30% year over year, to $1.28, beating by 15 cents the consensus estimates of analysts polled by FactSet Research Systems.

Revenue surged 15% year over year, to $830 million, due primarily to a 20% increase in net interest income. Though loan growth was essentially flat, net interest income was enhanced by both higher interest rates and a lower loan-loss provision. Noninterest income climbed 7% year over year, to $285 million.

Comerica’s net interest margin increased 63 basis points, to 3.28%. Adjusted for the one-time tax charge, the bank’s return on assets climbed to 1.26% from 0.95% in the fourth quarter of 2016 and its return on equity increased to 11.24% from 9.11% a year earlier.

The $71.4 billion-asset company also reported a much-improved efficiency ratio, which declined to 58.07%, down from 63.58% a year earlier.

In a news release, Chairman and CEO Ralph W. Babb said he expects growth to accelerate in 2018.

“The full-year impact of the 2017 rate increases should help drive further revenue growth,” he said. “Also, we expect to benefit from the lower tax rate, and we are well positioned to take advantage of additional interest rate increases, favorable changes in regulation and economic growth."

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