Toronto-Dominion Bank, which plans to acquire New Jersey-based Commerce Bancorp early next year, posted a 44 percent jump in fourth-quarter profit on Thursday thanks to strong results in its wealth management and retail banking businesses.

TD, Canada's third largest bank by market value, said it earned C$1.09 billion ($1.10 billion), or C$1.50 a share, in the three months ended Oct. 31. That was up from C$762 million or C$1.04 a share, in the same period a year earlier.

The bank said it earned C$1.40 a share, excluding a previously disclosed Visa Inc gain and other items, up from C$1.20 a share a year earlier.

Analysts had expected earnings of C$1.38 before items, according to Reuters Estimates.

A strong fourth-quarter financial performance wrapped up a tremendous 2007, Ed Clark, the bank's president and chief executive, said in a statement.

In TD's Canadian retail banking segment, earnings rose 14 percent in the quarter to C$572 million. The bank noted that escalating competition in high-yield saving deposit accounts kept pressure on margins, and it sees moderating revenue growth in 2008.

Fourth-quarter profit in wealth management, which includes its 40-percent stake in TD Ameritrade, jumped 31 percent to C$194 million.

Much of TD's focus will be shifting south in fiscal 2008, as it intends to close the friendly deal to buy Cherry Hill, N.J.-based Commerce Bancorp in February or March.

The parties expect to mail the proxy statement and prospectus to Commerce shareholders in December, TD said in its release.

The implied value of the cash-and-stock acquisition has been trimmed to about $8.2 billion, from $8.5 billion initially, as TD's share price has declined.

TD has said the Commerce acquisition will give it critical mass in the United States by adding to its TD Banknorth operations in New England.

In the latest quarter, TD Banknorth earned C$124 million, twice as much as in the same 2006 period, after TD upped its stake in Banknorth earlier this year to 100 percent.

TD Banknorth's results exceeded expectations in the quarter despite the strengthening of the Canadian dollar, Clark said in the release.

In wholesale banking, TD said quarterly earnings rose 8 percent to C$157 million. ($1=0.99 Canadian)