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Butterfield’s share price soars

Butterfield’s share price has reached a one-year high, helping to boost the Bermuda Stock Exchange by more than 11 percent this year.

Analysts say reasons for the bank’s rise in share price may be improved confidence in Butterfield and global markets, and a recently declared interim dividend.

Butterfield shares closed at $1.50 on Friday, up more than 7 percent, or 10 cents, for the week alone.

That’s up from a 52-week low of $1.22 and an all-time low when the shares touched 99 cents on the BSX last April. Butterfield stock is up 22.6 percent year to date vs. the S&P 500 (11.1%) and MSCI World (9.5%).

The bank has been turning the corner from a crisis of four years ago that saw it record net losses of more than $200 million in both 2009 and 2010, driven by soured investments linked to US mortgages.

LOM Asset Management portfolio manager Grant Hopkins said there may be several reasons for the rise in share price.

“1. Multiple expansion — following the crisis a few years ago NTB traded near or below book value,” Mr Hopkins said. “Shareholders are now giving the company’s balance sheet and management more credit and the stock is now trading about 1.3 x book.

“2. Returning value to shareholders — newly declared interim dividend of $0.01 and share buy-back (over $10 million bought back over the last year) helping boost stock (over $10 million bought back over the last year)

“3. To some degree global market effect. Markets up across the world this year and BSX Index up over 20 percent in the past month.”

An LOM research report last year had still rated Butterfield (Ticker NTB) shares “hold” with a price target of $1.40.

Butterfield shares once traded at just under $14. That was in July 2007.

Anchor CFO Nathan Kowalski said it is difficult to speculate on short term swings in price but it could definitely have to do in part with the share buyback programme which is supporting the bank’s shares.

The Bank announced the new interim dividend as part of its April 30 earnings release.

The Board said it was declaring a “first interim dividend of $0.01 per common share”.

Butterfield said it made a first-quarter profit of $13.3 million, including non-core redundancy and early retirement costs of $2.0 million, compared to net income of $14.7 million in Q1 2012.

In February as part of its 2012 full-year earnings announcement, Butterfield declared a four cent special dividend — the first payment on common shares since dividends were suspended four years ago.

Offering the special dividend to shareholders was a symbolic gesture of thanks to investors who stood by the bank during the past few years, CEO and chairman Brendan McDonagh said at the time.

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Published May 07, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 06, 2013 at 7:01 pm)

Butterfield’s share price soars

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