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4 Simple Reasons to Buy Bank of Nova Scotia

Bank of Nova Scotia (TSX:BNS)(NYSE:BNS) has been under pressure since the middle of last summer, but it might be the best pick in the Canadian banking sector right now.

Here’s why.

1. Restructuring progress

Last November, Bank of Nova Scotia launched a massive restructuring of the organization. The company announced plans to eliminate 1,500 positions and took a one-time charge of $451 million. Once all the changes are completed, Bank of Nova Scotia should see expense reductions of $120 million per year.

The restructuring news came as a surprise to the markets, but new CEO Brian Porter had already been cleaning house for several months. Since taking over the top job in late 2013, Porter has changed the company’s head of capital markets, head of marketing, head of wealth management, chief risk officer, and chief operating officer. The November announcement added the regional heads for Latin America and Mexico to that list.

Restructuring efforts take time to work through the system, but investors should start to see the positive effects of the process by the second half of 2015.

2. Latin American growth

Bank of Nova Scotia is Canada’s most international financial institution, with operations in more than 50 countries. The company’s largest focus is in Latin America, where Bank of Nova Scotia has built a strong presence in Mexico, Peru, Colombia, and Chile.

These four countries offer enormous growth potential as their going middle classes demand more banking products. The countries are also integrating their markets with ongoing efforts to eliminate trade barriers, enabling the free movement of both goods and workers.

In Q1 2015, Bank of Nova Scotia’s international division delivered strong loan and deposit growth. Latin American operations saw year-over-year Q1 retail loans increase 13% and commercial loans grew by 11%. This is compared to loan growth of 4% in Canada.

3. Strong dividend growth

Bank of Nova Scotia continues to pay investors for their patience. The company recently increased the quarterly dividend by 2 cents. The annualized payout of $2.72 per share yields about 4.25%. The company has bumped up the distribution eight times in the past five years.

4. Valuation

Bank of Nova Scotia trades at 10.6 times forward earning and 1.6 times book value, making it very attractive right now compared to its five-year average.

Should you buy?

As headwinds build in the Canadian market, bank investors should look for companies with diversified revenue streams, and Bank of Nova Scotia certainly fits that bill.

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This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

Fool contributor Andrew Walker has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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