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FIRST ESSEX BANCORP ANNOUNCES FIRST QUARTER RESULTS

 FIRST ESSEX BANCORP ANNOUNCES FIRST QUARTER RESULTS
 LAWRENCE, Mass., April 20 /PRNewswire/ -- First Essex Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ: FESX) announced today net income for the quarter ended March 31, 1992 of $55,000, or 1 cent per share, compared to a net loss of $5.1 million, or 84 cents per share, for the same period in 1991. Included in net income of $55,000 were securities gains of $596,000 and expense of $1.5 million for additional write-downs of the carrying values of real estate owned. Net interest income before the provision for possible loan losses totaled $4.3 million for the quarter, compared to $3.5 million for the same period in 1991. The decrease in net loss resulted primarily from a reduction in the provision for possible loan losses to $0 for the quarter compared to $4.1 million for the same period in 1991.
 At March 31, 1992, non-accruing loans were $25.1 million compared to $33.1 million at Dec. 31, 1991. The allowance for possible loan losses was $16.9 million, or 67.3 percent of non-accruing loans, compared to $18.3 million, or 55.3 percent of non-accruing loans, at Dec. 31, 1991. Included in non-accruing loans at March 31, 1992, were $6.4 million of loans which were current as to both principal and interest and $2.9 million of loans 60 to 89 days past due which management determined to account for as non-accruing loans. Restructured loans totaled $6.3 million at March 31, 1992, compared to $4.3 million at Dec. 31, 1991. Other real estate owned at March 31, 1992, totaled $17.2 million compared to $15.8 million at Dec. 31, 1991.
 Leonard A. Wilson, president and chief executive officer, stated: "Although we've seen some positive signs, the region's economy remains weak. We continue to focus on reducing non-performing assets, and again this quarter, noted further progress. Part of this focus involves the review of our performing and non-performing loans and OREO as well as the adequacy of reserves. This quarter we made further adjustments to the carrying values of certain OREO based on market conditions. At March 31, 1992, our capital ratio was 8.80 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 10 retail banking offices in northern Massachusetts and two offices in southern New Hampshire.
 The company at March 31, 1992 had total assets of $495 million and deposits of $442 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
 March 31, March 31,
 1992 1991
 Consolidated Operating Results
 Interest and dividend income $10,277 $11,970
 Interest expense 5,951 8,421
 Net interest income 4,326 3,549
 Provision for possible loan losses 0 4,125
 Net interest income (loss) after
 provision for possible loan losses 4,326 (576)
 Non-interest income:
 Loan fees 117 102
 Deposit fees 313 225
 Other 91 90
 Securities gains 596 145
 Loan sales gains 34 37
 Net gain (loss) on sale of other
 real estate owned 152 (46)
 Total non-interest income 1,303 553
 Non-interest expense:
 Salaries, fees, benefits 1,548 1,659
 Equipment and occupancy 598 630
 Other real estate owned 1,868 1,360
 Other administrative 1,560 1,383
 Total non-interest expense 5,574 5,032
 Earnings (loss) before income taxes 55 (5,055)
 Income taxes -- 4
 Net earnings (loss) 55 $(5,059)
 Earnings (loss) per share 1 cent (84 cents)
 March 31, March 31,
 Balance Sheet Data 1992 1991
 Total assets $495,428 $546,227
 Loans, net 337,035 401,834
 Investments 116,311 87,767
 Deposits 441,486 456,867
 Borrowings 0 24,676
 Stockholders' equity 43,576 54,345
 Book value per share $7.25 $9.04
 Capital-to-assets ratio 8.80 pct 9.95 pct
 -0- 4/20/92
 /CONTACT: David W. Dailey or James A. Sgroi of First Essex Bancorp, 508-681-7500/
 (FESX) CO: First Essex Bancorp, Inc. ST: Massachusetts IN: FIN SU: ERN


SH -- NE008 -- 9993 04/20/92 11:12 EDT
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Date:Apr 20, 1992
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