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Why You Should Buy Toronto-Dominion Bank Instead of Bank of Montreal for U.S. Exposure

Chances are good that if you made money in 2015, you did so in part by staying far away from commodities and by being exposed to U.S. consumer spending in some shape or form. In 2016, the same formula for success should apply.

This is because while the Canadian economy is currently paralyzed by oil prices in the $30 range, the U.S. consumer is doing better than ever. U.S. consumer net worth is at a record high, job growth is on the strongest two-year streak in over a decade, and U.S. consumer debt levels are at multi-decade lows.

If you’re looking at bank stocks in 2016, having exposure to this trend will be a factor that leads to outperformance. While both Toronto-Dominion Bank (TSX:TD)(NYSE:TD) and Bank of Montreal (TSX:BMO)(NYSE:BMO) have large U.S. segments, TD is by far the better play.

TD’s U.S. segment has outperformed BMO’s

While past performance does not dictate future results, it can if the factors that lead to strong or weak performance remain in place. In this regard, TD has had an advantage.

Starting with net income, since 2013 TD’s U.S. segment (which includes income from its interest in TD Ameritrade) has grown its adjusted net income in U.S. dollars by 13%. Over the same time period BMO has grown earnings from its U.S. personal and commercial segment by 10.7%.

While this seems fairly close, it is important to note that BMO’s U.S. wealth management segment results are not reported as part of its U.S. personal and commercial segment (whereas TD includes wealth management income as part of its U.S. retail results).

BMO’s U.S. wealth management segment’s adjusted net income has actually declined by 46% since 2015. When you add this to BMO’s U.S. personal and commercial segment results, BMO’s U.S. retail earnings actually declined by almost 4% since 2013.

On top of this, TD has also done much better at growing its deposits. Deposit growth is very important, since it is not only a measure of the franchise’s strength (their ability to attract customers), but it also affects revenue growth.

Fast-growing deposits means the bank can also grow its assets faster (since banks lend out or invest deposits), which in turn means revenue that grows faster. This is exactly what has been happening. Since 2014 TD has grown its U.S. loans quarterly by a range of 9-16%. BMO has grown its U.S. loans by a range of 4-8%. Recently, BMO’s consumer loans have actually been shrinking.

TD should be able to continue this outperformance

Firstly, TD’s continued loan growth should be supported by the fact that it operates in much stronger and less competitive area’s than BMO does. BMO is largely located in the U.S. Midwest with operations in states like Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana.

TD, on the other hand, is located primarily in the U.S. Northeast, and it also has a heavy presence in Florida. Location makes a big difference. TD has a heavy presence in New York State, which saw 5% GDP growth in the first half of 2015, and Florida, which saw 5.1% GDP growth during the same period. This is well above national average, which is true for nearly all the states TD operates in. Overall, TD operates in seven of the 10 wealthiest states.

TD is also currently located in five of the top 10 metropolitan areas in the U.S. (markets like New York City, Boston, and Miami), and these are all high-growth markets.

The Midwest, where BMO operates, is not only more economically challenged than TD’s operating area, but it is also more competitive. The U.S. Midwest, according to analysts at National Bank, is a very competitive landscape with many small community banks and credit unions.

For these reasons, TD is a far better play on the U.S. than BMO. As icing on the cake, TD’s segment is also larger, offering more exposure.

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Fool contributor Adam Mancini has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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