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FIRST ESSEX BANCORP, INC. ANNOUNCES FOURTH QUARTER EARNINGS

 LAWRENCE, Mass., Feb. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- First Essex Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ: FESX) announced today net income for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 1992 of $526,000, or 9 cents per share, compared to a net loss of $4.3 million, or 72 cents per share, for the same period in 1991. Net interest income before the provision for possible loan losses totaled $4.8 million for the quarter, compared to $3.8 million for the same period in 1991. The largest contributors to the increased net income were the reduction in the provision for possible loan losses to $0 for the quarter compared to $3.5 million for the same period in 1991 and the increase in net interest income of $1.0 million.
 The net income for the year ended Dec. 31, 1992 was $1.1 million, or 18 cents per share, compared to a net loss of $16.4 million, or $2.73 per share, for the same period in 1991. Net interest income before the provision for possible loan losses totaled $18.6 million for the year, compared to $14.7 million in 1991. The provision for possible loan losses was $0 in 1992 compared to $11.0 million in 1991. Expenses associated with the holding of other real estate owned (including the write down of carrying values in certain cases) totaled $6.0 million for the year compared to $6.1 million in 1991.
 At Dec. 31, 1992, non-accruing loans were $17.8 million compared to $22.4 million at Sept. 30, 1992 and $33.1 million at Dec. 31, 1991. The allowance for possible loan losses was $11.8 million (or 66.1 percent of non-accruing loans) compared to $13.9 million (or 62.2 percent of non- accruing loans) at Sept. 30, 1992 and $18.3 million (or 46.2 percent of non-accruing loans) at Dec. 31, 1991. Restructured loans totaled $4.4 million at Dec. 31, 1992, $4.5 million at Sept. 30, 1992, and $4.3 million at Dec. 31, 1991. Foreclosed assets owned at Dec. 31, 1992 totaled $12.1 million compared to $14.4 million at Sept. 30, 1992 and $15.8 million at Dec. 31, 1991.
 Leonard A. Wilson, president and chief executive officer, stated: "We are encouraged by our progress. We continued to reduce our level of non-accruing loans, to sell foreclosed assets at a healthy rate and to control our expenses. At Dec. 31, 1992 our capital ratio was 8.8 percent."
 First Essex Bancorp, Inc. is the holding company of First Essex Savings Bank, Lawrence, Mass., and First Essex Bancorp of New Hampshire, Inc. and its subsidiary, First Essex Savings Bank of New Hampshire, Windham, N.H. First Essex Bancorp subsidiaries have nine retail banking offices in northern Massachusetts and two offices in southern New Hampshire.
 The company at Dec. 31, 1992 had total assets of $507 million and deposits of $412 million. Deposits at First Essex Savings Bank in Massachusetts, are insured in full by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and Deposit Insurance Fund of Massachusetts. Deposits at First Essex Savings Bank of New Hampshire are insured up to the applicable limits by the FDIC.
 FIRST ESSEX BANCORP, INC.
 Consolidated Financial Highlights
 (Dollars in thousands, except per share data)
 For the Three Months Ended
 Dec. 31, Dec. 31,
 1992 1991
 Consolidated Operating Earnings
 Interest and dividend income $8,974 $10,657
 Interest expense 4,223 6,845
 Net interest income 4,751 3,812
 Provision for possible loan losses 0 3,532
 Net interest income (loss) after
 provision for possible loan losses 4,751 280
 Non-interest income:
 Loan fees 53 93
 Deposit fees 381 373
 Other 72 96
 Securities gains 8 65
 Loan sales gains 57 148
 Gain (loss) on sale of OREO 594 15
 Total non-interest income 1,165 790
 Non-interest expense:
 Salaries, fees, benefits 1,936 1,956
 Equipment and occupancy 609 648
 Other real estate owned 1,196 1,476
 Other administrative 1,714 1,816
 Retail branch write-off 0 285
 Total non-interest expense 5,455 6,181
 Income (loss) before income taxes 461 (5,111)
 Income taxes (benefits) (65) 0
 Net income (loss) before
 extraordinary item 526 (5,111)
 Extraordinary item 0 800
 Net income (loss) after extraordinary
 item $526 $(4,311)
 Earnings (loss) per share
 before extraordinary item 9 cents (85 cents)
 Earnings (loss) per share after
 extraordinary item 9 cents (72 cents)
 For the Year Ended
 Dec. 31, Dec. 31,
 1992 1991
 Consolidated Operating Earnings
 Interest and dividend income $37,831 $45,347
 Interest expense 19,240 30,675
 Net interest income 18,591 14,672
 Provision for possible loan losses 0 10,952
 Net interest income (loss) after
 provision for possible loan losses 18,591 3,720
 Non-interest income:
 Loan fees 408 406
 Deposit fees 1,341 1,121
 Other 503 370
 Securities gains 613 247
 Loan sales gains 234 316
 Gain (loss) on sale of OREO 943 (169)
 Total non-interest income 4,042 2,291
 Non-interest expense:
 Salaries, fees, benefits 6,687 6,949
 Equipment and occupancy 2,262 2,624
 Other real estate owned 5,943 6,055
 Other administrative 6,630 6,650
 Retail branch write-off 0 973
 Total non-interest expense 21,522 23,251
 Income (loss) before income taxes 1,111 (17,240)
 Income taxes (benefits) 13 0
 Net income (loss) before
 extraordinary item 1,098 (17,240)
 Extraordinary item 0 800
 Net income (loss) after extraordinary
 item $1,098 $(16,440)
 Earnings (loss) per share
 before extraordinary item 18 cents $(2.86)
 Earnings (loss) per share after
 extraordinary item 18 cents $(2.73)
 Balance Sheet Data Dec. 31, Dec. 31,
 (In thousands) 1992 1991
 Total assets $506,913 $510,709
 Loans, net 284,875 353,760
 Investments 186,232 116,944
 Deposits 412,218 449,032
 Borrowings 40,000 8,999
 Stockholders' equity 44,619 43,103
 Non-Performing Asset Data
 Non-accrual loans $17,790 $33,142
 Restructured loans 4,447 4,325
 Foreclosed property 12,125 15,847
 Total non-performing assets $34,362 $53,314
 Book value per share $7.42 $7.17
 Capital-to-asset ratio 8.80 pct 8.44 pct
 -0- 2/11/93
 /CONTACT: David W. Dailey or Sametta A. Glass of First Essex Bancorp, 508-681-7500/
 (FESX)


CO: First Essex Bancorp, Inc. ST: Massachusetts IN: FIN SU: ERN

DD -- NE006 -- 5646 02/11/93 11:16 EST
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