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EARNINGS CONTINUE TO RISE AT UJB FINANCIAL

 EARNINGS CONTINUE TO RISE AT UJB FINANCIAL
 PRINCETON, N.J., Jan. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- UJB Financial Corp.


(NYSE: UJB) today announced fourth quarter earnings of $.18 per share, the fourth consecutive quarter of improved earnings for the company. It also reported a decline in the level of non-performing assets for the second successive quarter.
 Net income for the fourth quarter of 1991 was $8.8 million, or $.18 per common share, compared with a loss of $16.9 million, or $.39 per common share, for the same period a year ago. For the year ended Dec. 31, 1991, net income was $22.4 million, or $.45 per share, compared to a loss of $5.6 million, or $.17 per share, for the prior year.
 "We are encouraged by the four quarters of steadily improving earnings we reported this year despite continued weakness in the economy," said T. Joseph Semrod, chairman, president and chief executive officer. "Even with a soft market in 1991, we continued to gain market share in commercial and industrial lending in New Jersey, and made excellent progress developing new business in Pennsylvania, particularly in the southeastern market of that state." Semrod added, "We remain cautiously optimistic, that even with the creeping recovery economists are predicting, UJB Financial will be able to continue to improve its earnings in 1992."
 "We are further heartened that the continuing strong efforts of our loan recovery units resulted in a decrease in non-performing assets," Semrod said. "During 1991, non-performing assets reached their highest level at June 30, totaling $597.0 million, and have since declined in each of the last two quarters." At Dec. 31, 1991, non-performing assets were $577.2 million, a decrease of $17.3 million, or 2.9 percent from the prior quarter. At year-end 1990, non-performing assets were $517.1 million. As a percent of total assets, non-performing were 4.31 percent at Dec. 31, 1991, compared to 4.03 percent the prior year-end.
 The allowance for loan losses at December 31, 1991 was $288.8 million, or 3.29 percent of total loans, compared to $258.7 million, or 2.99 percent of total loans a year earlier. The provision for loan losses for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 1991 was $31.1 million, compared to $62.0 million for the same period a year earlier. For the full year of 1991, the provision was $167.4 million, compared to $246.0 million for 1990. Net charge-offs were $137.3 million, or 1.58 percent of average loans, for the year ended Dec. 31, 1991, compared to $109.2 million, or 1.28 percent the previous year.
 "UJB Financial's capital ratios continue to be strong and well above regulatory guidelines," Semrod noted. At Dec. 31, 1991, the total equity to asset ratio was 6.07 percent. Based upon 1992 regulatory guidelines, Tier I and total risk adjusted capital ratios were 8.03 percent and 9.53 percent, respectively, compared to the minimum requirements of 4.0 percent and 8.0 percent.
 "Even though our market share of commercial and industrial loans in New Jersey is up significantly, borrowing in that category continues to be down from previous levels because of the economy," Semrod observed. "However, we have been able to increase our consumer loans, and we experienced a record year in residential mortgage originations."
 Total loans at Dec. 31, 1991 were $8.8 billion, up 1.2 percent from $8.7 billion the prior year. Installment loans at Dec. 31, 1991 at $1.9 billion were up 2.6 percent, compared to $1.8 billion at Dec. 31, 1990, and mortgage loans were $2.1 billion, up 16.9 percent over the same period a year ago. Total commercial loans at the end of the fourth quarter were $4.6 billion, down 4.1 percent from Dec. 31, 1990.
 "We experienced strong growth in deposits," Semrod pointed out, "with total retail time deposits up $974.8 million to $8.7 billion, an increase of 12.6 percent. Demand deposits also increased $89.0 million to $2.1 billion, up 4.4 percent." Total deposits at Dec. 31, 1991 were $11.3 billion, up 6.4 percent. Total assets at $13.4 billion increased 4.4 percent at Dec. 31, 1991, compared to $12.8 billion a year ago.
 Net interest income was up 2.4 percent to $124.0 million for the quarter ending Dec. 31, 1991, compared to $121.1 million for the same period last year. Net interest margin was 4.17 percent for the fourth quarter of 1991, compared to 4.09 percent reported in the fourth quarter of last year.
 Non-interest income for the fourth quarter was $40.6 million, up from $29.7 million in the same quarter of 1990, with most of the increase attributable to security gains. Security gains of $6.7 million were realized to take advantage of current market conditions, and to reduce prepayment risk associated with higher coupon mortgage-backed securities. For all of 1991, non-interest income was $149.6 million, down $19.3 million from the prior year in part, because of a $50.0 million gain on the sale of the credit card portfolio in 1990. During 1991, gains of $5.6 million on the securitization of second mortgage loans and $13.9 million on the sale of securities were recorded.
 "Throughout 1991 we continued our focus on non-interest expense control and the implementation of revenue enhancing ideas submitted by our employees," Semrod added. "Suggestions made by our employees continue to have a significant positive impact on costs and revenues. Additionally, savings have been achieved through consolidations of our banking units and tight controls on personnel-related expenses."
 Non-interest expenses in the fourth quarter were $124.4 million, up 5.4 percent over the $118.0 million reported in the fourth quarter a year ago. For the year ended Dec. 31, 1991, non-interest expense was up $18.7 million, or 4.4 percent over 1990. The increases for the quarter and the year can be attributed to higher FDIC fees and higher costs associated with holding and operating other real estate properties. Additionally, $3.1 million of expenses have been incurred this year resulting from our recent branch acquisitions. "Without these items, non-interest expenses would be below the level of the prior year," Semrod concluded.
 UJB Financial has 265 banking offices in New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania. The company has six member banks and ten active non-bank subsidiaries providing financial services to individuals, businesses, not-for-profit organizations, government, and other financial institutions.
 UJB FINANCIAL CORP.
 Quarter ended Dec. 31; 1991 1990
 Net income (loss) $8,761,000 ($16,880,000)
 Per share $.18 ($.39)
 Average shares outstanding 45,837,000 44,984,000
 Year ended Dec. 31;
 Net income (loss) $22,435,000 ($5,576,000)
 Per share $.45 ($.17)
 Average shares outstanding 45,650,000 44,601,000
 Book value per common share $17.04 $17.24
 -0- 1/16/92
 /CONTACT: Barrie H. MacKay, 609-987-3350, or Faith P. Goldstein, 609-987-3341, both of UJB Financial/
 (UJB) CO: UJB Financial Corp. ST: New Jersey IN: FIN SU: ERN SM -- NY075 -- 0616 01/16/92 14:52 EST
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