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Guardian Capital Group Limited (TSX: GCG; GCG.A) Announces 2018 First Quarter Operating Results

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TORONTO, May 10, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- All per share figures disclosed below are stated on a diluted basis.

         
For the three months ended March 31        
($ in thousands, except per share amounts)     2018 2017
         
Net revenue     $   41,516   $ 38,618
Operating earnings         10,504     12,458
Net gains (losses)(2)         (15,932 )   25,871
Net earnings (loss) attributable to shareholders(2)         (6,208 )   33,285
         
         
EBITDA(1)     $   12,471   $ 13,306
Adjusted cash flow from operations(1)         8,764     10,122
         
         
Per share:        
Net earnings (loss) attributable to shareholders(2)     $   (0.23 ) $ 1.14
EBITDA(1)         0.44     0.46
Adjusted cash flow from operations(1)         0.31     0.35
         
         
As at   2018 2017
($ in millions, except per share amounts)   March 31 December 31 March 31
         
Assets under management   $   29,457 $ 27,250   $ 26,967
Assets under administration       17,601   17,795     16,958
Shareholders' equity       624   634     605
Securities       648   652     636
         
         
Per share:        
Shareholders' equity(1)   $   21.98 $ 21.88   $ 20.58
Securities(1)       22.84   22.49     21.63
         
         

Effective January 1, 2018, the Company adopted a new accounting standard, International Financial Reporting Standard 9 - Financial Instruments, on a retrospective basisAs described in the Company's previous disclosures, this new standard introduces significant volatility into the Company's Net gains (losses) and therefore its Net earnings (loss).  In reviewing the Company's results, in addition to considering Net earnings (loss), it may therefore be beneficial for readers to consider other measures, such as operating earnings and EBITDA(1), which provide views of the Company's results without the volatility introduced by the new standard.  Prior period figures have been restated to reflect the retrospective application of the new standard.

The Company closed, on January 2, 2018, the previously announced acquisition of a 70% interest in Alta Capital Management, LLC ("Alta"), a Utah-based, investment management firm with $3.2 billion USD in assets under management ("AUM"). The current quarter is the first reporting period to include the results of Alta.

The Company's operating earnings for the quarter ended March 31, 2018 were $10.5 million, compared to $12.5 million during the same quarter in the prior year.  This decrease in operating earnings was due to several factors.  Firstly, the operating earnings contribution from the MGA business decreased in the current quarter by $1.5 million compared to the prior year.  As previously reported, this was largely the result of the prior year's operating earnings being unusually high as insurance sales volumes were higher due to incoming tax changes.  Secondly, operating expenses were higher in both the Investment Management and the Financial Advisory Segments.  The Investment Management Segment incurred a one-time expense of approximately $1 million related to the integration of Alta, and the Financial Advisory Segment incurred additional expenses related to its technology platform upgrade in the current quarter.  Thirdly, operating earnings decreased in the Corporate Activities and Investments Segment by $0.7 million, largely due to the deconsolidation of earnings from the Global UCITS fund.   Finally, these were partially offset by the operating earnings contribution from Alta of $1.9 million.

As a result of significant unrealized losses on securities, including the Bank of Montreal shares, the Company recognized $15.9 million in Net losses in the current quarter, compared to Net gains of $25.9 million in the prior year.  In future periods, similar unrealized gains or losses will continue to be included in Net gains (losses) in arriving at the Company's Net earnings.

As a result of the Net losses described above, the Company is reporting Net losses attributable to shareholders in the current quarter of $6.2 million, compared to Net earnings attributable to shareholders of $33.3 million in the prior year.

The Company's AUM was $29.5 billion as at March 31, 2018, compared to $27.3 billion at the end of 2017 and $27.0 billion as at March 31, 2017.  The increase in AUM is due largely to the addition of $4.2 billion ($3.2 billion USD) in client assets managed by Alta, partially offset by an outflow of assets and negative financial market performance.   The Company's assets under administration were $17.6 billion as at March 31, 2018, compared to $17.8 billion at the end of 2017 and $17.0 billion as at March 31, 2017. 

EBITDA(1) for the current quarter was $12.5 million, or $0.44 per share, compared to $13.3 million, or $0.46 per share for 2017.  Adjusted cash flow from operations(1) for the current quarter was $8.8 million, or $0.31 per share, compared to $10.1 million, or $0.35 per share for 2017.  These two non-IFRS financial measures used by the Company are defined in our quarterly and annual Management's Discussion and Analysis.  

The Company's shareholders' equity as at March 31, 2018 was $624 million, or $21.98 per share, compared to $634 million, or $21.88 per share as at December 31, 2017, and $605 million, or $20.58 per share, as at March 31, 2017. The fair value of the Company's Securities as at March 31, 2018 was $648 million, or $22.84 per share, compared to $652 million, or $22.49 per share, as at December 31, 2017, and $636 million or $21.63 per share, as at March 31, 2017.   

The Board of Directors has declared a quarterly eligible dividend of $0.125 per share, payable on July 18, 2018, to shareholders of record on July 11, 2018. 

The following table summarizes Guardian's financial results for the past eight quarters.

                 
For the three months ended Mar 31, 2018 Dec 31, 2017 Sep 30, 2017 Jun 30, 2017 Mar 31, 2017 Dec 31, 2016 Sep 30, 2016 Jun 30, 2016
($ in thousand, except per share amounts)
                 
Net revenue $   41,516   $ 39,097 $ 36,315 $ 37,208   $ 38,618 $ 38,240 $ 35,185 $ 34,191
Operating earnings     10,504     13,046   10,505   12,160     12,458   12,371   10,646   10,300
Net gains (losses)(2)     (15,932 )   38,186   4,068   (3,603 )   25,871   45,511   26,492   14,831
Net earnings (loss)(2)     (5,279
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