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Quarterly financial statistics for enterprises, fourth quarter 2015

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Released: 2016-02-25

Operating profits

$77.4 billion

Fourth quarter 2015


(quarterly change)

Canadian corporations earned $77.4 billion in operating profits in the fourth quarter, down 3.1% from the previous quarter. The decrease was driven by a $2.4 billion decline in profits in the financial sector, while profits among non-financial enterprises fell by $104 million. Overall, operating profits were down in 13 of 22 industries.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Quarterly operating profits
Quarterly operating profits

In the non-financial sector, operating profits edged down 0.2% in the fourth quarter to $55.1 billion, following a 2.1% decrease in the third quarter.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Quarterly change in operating profits
Quarterly change in operating profits

In the financial sector, operating profits declined 9.6% to $22.3 billion, mainly as a result of a large change in the value of actuarial liabilities held by life insurers.

On a year-over-year basis, overall operating profits for Canadian corporations decreased 3.4% compared with the fourth quarter of 2014. Profits fell 8.9% in the non-financial sector, while they increased 13.3% in the financial sector.

Non-financial sector

The oil and gas extraction industry reported an operating loss for the fourth consecutive quarter. The loss, which was larger than in any of the previous quarters of 2015, totalled $1.6 billion, and resulted from a 2.5% decline in revenue to $31.0 billion. As in the other quarters of 2015, lower expenses partially offset the decline in revenue.

Total operating profits in the manufacturing sector were down 1.5% compared with the previous quarter to $12.3 billion. Operating profits rose in 8 of 13 manufacturing industries.

In manufacturing, the largest declines were recorded in the petroleum and coal products manufacturing industry, where profits fell 30.6% to $826 million, as revenues decreased by $1.9 billion. Operating revenues, expenses and profits were down in every quarter in 2015, except the second quarter.

Operating profits decreased 2.9% to $2.7 billion in the chemical, plastics and rubber products manufacturing industry, as a result of a 0.8% decline in revenues to $22.6 billion. Profits in the primary metal manufacturing industry fell 7.3% to $213 million.

Operating profits in the motor vehicle and parts manufacturing industry grew 5.3% to $1.5 billion. Data from the Monthly Survey of Manufacturing indicate that the increase in revenues in this industry was driven by sales of assembled motor vehicles, rather than sales of parts.

Operating profits for food and soft drink manufacturers rose 5.7% to $1.5 billion. Operating revenues were up 1.5% to $29.8 billion.

Operating profits in wholesale trade fell 0.8% to $5.4 billion, with decreases in all industries except for food, beverage and tobacco wholesalers, whose profits grew 14.7% to $1.0 billion. Operating profits in the retail sector were steady at $3.7 billion, marking the sixth quarter of relatively flat returns. Food and beverage stores' profits recorded a 22.8% gain to $905 million, which was offset by declining profits in all other retail industries.

A devalued Canadian dollar contributed to a considerable rise in the food and live animals category of the customs-based price index, indicating an increase in the import prices of food products. This translated into higher costs for wholesalers and retailers. These costs appear to have been passed on to consumers, as food-related industries in both wholesale and retail trade reported a profit in the fourth quarter. The rise in food prices was the largest contributor to the increase in the Consumer Price Index in December.

Transportation and warehousing profits increased 2.9% to $4.7 billion. Profits in transportation rose 1.5% to $2.9 billion, while those in pipelines, warehousing and transportation support activities were up 5.3% to $1.8 billion.

Profits in the information and cultural industries decreased 4.1% to $4.2 billion. Profits in the telecommunications industry fell 2.4% to $3.2 billion, while those in the publishing, broadcasting, motion pictures, sound recording and information services industry were down 9.7% to $935 million.

Financial sector

In the fourth quarter, operating profits in the financial sector decreased 9.6% to $22.3 billion.

Insurance carriers' operating profits fell $1.2 billion from the third quarter to $2.9 billion in the fourth quarter, while net profits decreased from $2.7 billion to $2.4 billion. The large drop in operating profits was mainly attributable to an increase in fair value adjustments to actuarial liabilities among life, health, and medical insurance carriers.

Operating profits for depository credit intermediaries (banks and credit unions) declined 8.8% to $9.7 billion, as a result of lower derivative and trading income.

Overall, financial industries reported a higher net interest income compared with the previous quarter.

  Note to readers

Quarterly financial statistics are compiled using financial information provided by enterprises, which derive these data from their financial statements. Starting January 1, 2011, Canadian publicly accountable enterprises were required to replace Canadian Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (CGAAP) with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) when preparing their financial statements for fiscal years starting on or after January 1, 2011. Canadian private enterprises were required to replace CGAAP by Accounting Standards for Private Enterprises or IFRS. The adoption of new accounting standards by some enterprises since the beginning of 2011 may affect the comparability of data with those of prior periods.

Quarterly profit numbers referred to in this release are seasonally adjusted and expressed in current dollars. Financial data for the first, second and third quarters of 2015 have been revised.

For information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.

Quarterly financial statistics for enterprises are based on a sample survey and represent the activities of all corporations in Canada, except those that are government controlled or not-for-profit. An enterprise can be a single corporation or a family of corporations under common ownership and/or control, for which consolidated financial statements are produced.

Profits referred to in this analysis are operating profits earned from normal business activities. For non-financial industries, operating profits exclude interest and dividend revenue and capital gains/losses, while, for financial industries, these are included, along with interest paid on deposits.

Operating profits differ from net profits, which represent the after-tax profits earned by corporations.

Real-time CANSIM tables

Real-time CANSIM tables 187-8001 and 187-8002 will be updated on March 10. For more information, consult the document Real-time CANSIM tables.

Next release

Financial statistics for enterprises for the first quarter will be released on May 26.


Aggregate balance sheet and income statement data for Canadian corporations are now available in CANSIM at the national level for 22 industry groupings.

The fourth quarter 2015 issue of the Quarterly Financial Statistics for Enterprises (Catalogue number61-008-X) will be available soon.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300;

To enquire about the concepts, methods, or data quality of this release, contact Daryl Keen (613-864-8550; or Hafid Amzil (613-854-6437;, Industrial Organization and Finance Division.

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