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FIRST WESTERN BANCORP ANNOUNCES 41 PERCENT INCREASE IN FIRST QUARTER NET INCOME

 NEW CASTLE, Pa., April 19 /PRNewswire/ -- First Western Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ: FWBI) today announced record quarterly earnings of $3,592,000 for the first quarter ended March 31, 1993, as compared to $2,554,000 earned in the same period in 1992, an increase of 40.6 percent. On a per share basis, earnings were $0.73 in the first quarter of 1993 versus $0.64 in 1992, an increase of 14.1 percent. Earnings per share were up approximately 26 percent from the $0.58 earned in the fourth quarter of 1992. Total common shares and share equivalents upon which per share earnings were calculated were an average 4,947,000 for the first quarter of 1993 compared to 3,995,000 for the same 1992 period, an increase of 23.8 percent mostly due to the successful 862,500 share common stock offering completed April 9, 1992. Return on average assets increased dramatically to 1.20 percent for 1993s first quarter compared to 0.93 percent for the same period last year, while return on average equity was a high 16.8 percent.
 Total assets as of March 31, 1993, were $1.28 billion, an increase of 3.4 percent from the year-end 1992 level of $1.24 billion and 13.3 percent from the $1.13 billion at March 31, 1992. Shareholders' equity increased to $88.6 million as of March 31, 1993, up from $85.6 million at year-end 1992 and $64.1 million on March 31, 1992. Book value as of March 31, 1993, increased to $18.17 per share.
 First quarter 1993 earnings improved significantly over last year's results due to substantially higher net interest income, up 13.4 percent from $11.2 million in 1992 to $12.7 million in 1993, an approximate 12 percent increase in other income, and flat operating expenses at $8.5 million in each period. Higher income taxes and a $100,000 increase in the provision for possible loan losses to $830,000 partially offset the higher levels of income.
 Net interest income was up as a result of an approximate 9 percent increase in earning assets, primarily in securities, to an average of $1.157 billion for the quarter, and a higher net interest margin of 4.60 percent compared to 4.41 percent for the first quarter of 1992 and 4.54 percent in the 1992 fourth quarter. Total loans grew less than 1 percent in the quarter from year-end, but greater income from securities due to an approximate 16 percent growth in the securities portfolio from year-end contributed to overall higher net interest income.
 Other income included $330,000 of net securities gains in the quarter, compared to $15,000 in last year's first quarter. Excluding these security gains, overall other income was down slightly in the quarter to $1.6 million from $1.7 million last year, due primarily to lower trust fees. Other expenses were even with the first quarter of 1992 as the impact of the late 1992-adopted earnings improvement cost initiatives began to be realized.
 The provision for possible loan losses of $830,000 for the first quarter of 1993, while up slightly from last year's first quarter amount of $732,000, was lower than the 1992 fourth quarter provision of $1,360,000, as both total loan delinquencies and nonaccrual loans were lower at March 31, 1993 as compared to year-end. Nonaccrual loans stood at $7.8 million as quarter-end 1993 as compared to $8.7 million at Dec. 31, 1992, while total nonperforming assets were $9.9 million or 1.55 percent of total loans and real estate owned, about the same as at year-end. The allowance for possible loan losses stood at 1.56 percent of total loans as of March 31, 1993, providing coverage at 1.44 times non-accrual loans, up from 1.24 times at year-end. Net chargeoffs were an annualized 0.24 percent in the first quarter, as compared to 0.28 percent for last year's same period.
 Thomas J. O'Shane, president and chief executive officer of First Western, commenting on first quarter earnings, stated "Management is pleased to begin seeing results from our major 1992 internal reorganization, including the consolidation of all back office functions and the assessment of branch and functional area staffing levels. All functional area consolidation was completed by the end of March, and the company is preparing to consolidate its two banking subsidiaries later this year after having filed a regulatory application with the Office of Comptroller of Currency in March. Our 1993 focus will be on improving customer service, developing new products and fee-based services, as well as increasing calling efforts to obtain new loan customers. We also intend to promote and market aggressively our recently announced new subsidiary operating identity, First Western Bank, for both our to- be-combined lead bank and our thrift. Our management and employees deserve accolades for their tireless efforts over the past nine months in assisting in the realization of our goals."
 First Western adopted the provisions of two new accounting standards during the quarter, FAS 106 concerning post-retirement health and life insurance, and FAS 109 dealing with accounting for income taxes. The adoption of each new accounting standard had no material effect on the company's first quarter 1993 earnings.
 First Western Bancorp, Inc. is a multi-bank and thrift holding company headquartered in New Castle, and is the parent of bank subsidiaries First National Bank of Western Pennsylvania and Beaver Trust Company, a thrift subsidiary, First Federal of Western Pennsylvania, and a trust company, First Western Trust Services Company. Presently, there are 36 community branch banking offices and four trust services offices located in seven Western Pennsylvania counties and one Northeastern Ohio county.
 FIRST WESTERN BANCORP, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
 Selected Financial Data
 (Unaudited -- in thousands, except per share amounts)
 Summary of Earnings:
 Three Months Ended March 31 1993 1992
 Interest income $23,409 $23,893
 Interest expense 10,743 12,675
 Net interest income 12,666 11,218
 Provision for possible loan losses 830 732
 Net interest income after provision
 for possible loan losses 11,836 10,486
 Other income 1,944 1,738
 Other expenses 8,545 8,532
 Income before income taxes 5,235 3,692
 Income tax expense 1,643 1,138
 Net income 3,592 2,554
 Per share data:
 Earnings per share $0.73 $0.64
 Dividends per share $0.20 $0.18
 Average shares outstanding 4,947 3,995
 Book value per share (period end) $18.17 $16.04
 Market price per share (period end) $31.50 $20.50
 Balance Sheet Data: 3/31/93 12/31/92
 Totals at end of period
 Assets $1,276,925 $1,235,255
 Investment securities 109,767 100,962
 Securities available for sale 373,498 316,202
 Loans, net of unearned income 723,253 718,074
 Allowance for possible loan losses 11,255 10,846
 Deposits 962,855 961,223
 Federal Home Loan Bank advances with
 an original maturity greater than
 one year 79,500 84,500
 Long-term debt 13,382 13,533
 Shareholders' equity 88,573 85,605
 Significant Ratios:
 Three Months Ended 3/31/93 3/31/92
 Return on average assets 1.20 0.93
 Return on average equity 16.78 16.31
 Average loans as a pct. of avg. deposits 75.27 74.21
 Shareholders' equity as a pct. of period
 - end assets 6.94 5.67
 Tier 1 leverage ratio 6.86 5.55
 Net chargeoffs as a pct. of avg. loans 0.24 0.28
 Nonaccrual loans to total loans 1.08 0.51
 Nonperforming assets and loans past due
 90 days or more to total loans and other
 real estate owned and in-substance
 foreclosured 1.55 0.88
 Nonperforming assets to total assets 0.82 0.42
 Nonaccrual loans and loans past due 90
 days or more to total loans 1.26 0.72
 Allowance for possible loan losses as a
 percent of net loans 1.56 1.31
 Allowance for possible loan losses to
 nonaccrual loans 143.99 257.57
 Dividends as a percent of net income 27.10 28.68
 Net interest margin 4.60 4.41
 Effective tax rate 31.39 30.83
 -0- 4/19/93
 /CONTACT: Robert H. Young, senior vice president-finance, secretary and treasurer, or Linda M. Spinelli, stock transfer administrator of First Western Bancorp, 412-652-8550/
 (FWBI)


CO: First Western Bancorp, Inc. ST: Pennsylvania IN: FIN SU: ERN

SH-PS -- NY025 -- 7201 04/19/93 09:15 EDT
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Date:Apr 19, 1993
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