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Canaccord profit another blow to independent dealers

Canaccord Capital CEO Paul Reynolds speaks during the Canaccord Capital Inc.'s Annual General Meeting for shareholders in this file photo.

Rafal Gerszak/Rafal Gerszak/Globe and Mail

When will the pain stop?

That's surely a question management at Canaccord Financial and other independent brokerages must be asking each other. After a string of disappointing quarterly numbers, Canaccord underwhelmed the market again on Tuesday when it announced that it barely eked out a $2-million profit in its fiscal fourth quarter.

And that's looking at the bright side of things. If you add in acquisition charges from its purchase of Collins Stewart Hawkpoint and its restructuring charges here in Canada, Canaccord's net loss was actually $32-million.

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How the times have changed. When the market was flying high during this quarter in 2011, Canaccord's profit hit $41-million.

The full year picture isn't much prettier. From April to March, the firm posted a $21-million loss, which means that its other quarters were so weak that they couldn't offset the big charges Canaccord took on. That makes sense. Two quarters ago, the dealer actually posted a $5-million loss. (Side note: if you take the restructuring charges out, the firm's full year profit was $25-million.)

Where's the hit been the worst? Well, it's been rough pretty much across the board, with total revenues last quarter down 28 per cent from the year prior, and down for the full year about 25 per cent. But the weakest link is no doubt principal trading, down a stunning 61 per cent in the fourth quarter, and off -- believe it or not --75 per cent for the full year.

Investment banking didn't fare much better. Fees were down 48 per cent in the fourth quarter, and their full year drop was in the same range. On the bright side, advisory fees actually jumped 26 per cent in fiscal 2012.

For those who wonder how compensation is faring during this rough time, it's down too. Total comp across the firm fell 22 per cent last year, putting the drop pretty much even with the total slip in revenue.

The restructuring charges incurred this past quarter stemmed from letting people go at CSHP, amounting to a cost of $21-million, and restructuring the Canadian trading operations, creating a payout of $8.2-million.

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About the Author
Reporter and Streetwise columnist

Tim Kiladze is a business reporter with The Globe and Mail. Before crossing over to journalism, he worked in equity capital markets at National Bank Financial and in fixed-income sales and trading at RBC Dominion Securities. Tim graduated from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and also earned a Bachelor in Commerce in finance from McGill University. More

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