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DUFF & PHELPS: FIRST FIDELITY BANCORPORATION CREDIT RATINGS UPGRADED

 CHICAGO, Nov. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Duff & Phelps Credit Rating Co. has raised the ratings of First Fidelity Bancorporation (NYSE: FFB), its second tier holding companies, First Fidelity Inc. and Fidelcor, Inc., and its two principal subsidiary banks, First Fidelity Bank, N.A.(New Jersey) and Fidelity Bank, N.A. (Pennsylvania). The subordinated debt ratings for First Fidelity Bancorporation, First Fidelity Inc., and Fidelcor, Inc. are raised to "A-" (Single-A-Minus) from "BBB+" (Triple- B-Plus). The preferred stock rating for First Fidelity Bancorporation is raised to "BBB+" (Triple-B-Plus) from "BBB" (Triple-B). The commercial paper rating is reaffirmed at Duff 1-. The long-term senior rating for First Fidelity Bank, N.A. (New Jersey) and Fidelity Bank, N.A. (Pennsylvania) is raised to "A+" (Single-A-Plus) from "A" (Single-A). The short-term rating is reaffirmed at Duff 1.
 The rating upgrades reflect the solid operating fundamentals of the organization. Earnings and capital ratios are strong and asset quality measures have shown significant improvement. While First Fidelity has been active in growing through acquisition, most transactions have been government assisted or have involved the assumption of limited credit risk. Further, in those unassisted acquisitions management has demonstrated an ability to conduct an effective credit review resulting in minimal negative surprises. Also, management has been able to efficiently integrate acquisition to the benefit of profitability.
 First Fidelity's strong profitability is reflected by the company's third quarter performance. Net income equaled a record $101.5 million, 1.24 percent return on assets, compared with $82 million, 1.14 percent in 1992. A focus on expense management, which has resulted in a very efficiently run organization, is an important element in the strong profitability. Balance sheet measures have also strengthened significantly. Stockholders' equity equaled a large 8.1 percent of assets at the close of the third quarter with common equity equaling 7.35 percent, up from 7.35 percent and 6.54 percent, respectively, one year earlier. Non-performing assets declined to 2.51 percent of loans and other real estate owned at Sept. 30, 1993, compared with 3.32 percent at mid-year 1993 and 4.45 percent at Sept. 30, 1992. The reserve for loan losses was a large 2.98 percent of loans and 159 percent of non-accrual loans at the close of the third quarter. The liability structure has also been strengthened as management has focused on growing its base of stable core deposits. While First Fidelity has dramatically improved its overall performance and financial condition since Chairman and CEO Anthony Terracciano joined the company in February 1990, the longer-term challenge for management will be to generate revenue growth without significantly increasing the risk profile of the company.
 -0- 10/18/93
 /CONTACT: Charles J. Orabutt, Jr., CPA, CFA, of Duff & Phelps Credit Rating Co., 312-368-3153/
 (FFB)


CO: First Fidelity Bancorporation ST: IN: FIN SU: RTG

MP -- NY057 -- 6040 11/18/93 12:39 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 18, 1993
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