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FIRST ESSEX BANCORP INC. ANNOUNCES FIRST QUARTER EARNINGS

 LAWRENCE, Mass., April 15 /PRNewswire/ -- First Essex Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ: FESX) announced today net income for the quarter ended March 31, 1993 of $675,000 (or 11 cents per share) compared to net income of $55,000 (or 1 cent per share) for the same period in 1992. Net interest income before the provision for possible loan losses totaled $4.7 million for the quarter, compared to $4.3 million for the same period in 1992. The increased net income was due to higher net interest income and lower expenses related to foreclosed property, partially offset by lower gains on sales of securities. There were no provisions for possible loan losses in either period.
 At March 31, 1993, non-accruing loans were $15.2 million compared to $25.1 million at March 31, 1992 and $17.8 million at Dec. 31, 1992. The allowance for possible loan losses was $10.2 million at March 31, 1993 (or 67.3 percent of non-accruing loans) compared to $16.9 million (or 67.3 percent of non-accruing loans) at March 31, 1992 and $11.8 million (or 66.1 percent of non-accruing loans) at Dec. 31, 1992. Restructured loans totaled $4.2 million at March 31, 1993, $6.3 million at March 31, 1992, and $4.4 million at Dec. 31, 1992. Foreclosed property at March 31, 1993 totaled $11.2 million compared to $17.2 million at March 31, 1992 and $12.1 million at Dec. 31, 1992.
 Leonard A. Wilson, president and chief executive officer, stated: "We are pleased to report continued progress in reducing our non performing assets and containing expenses, both of which help improve our net income. At March 31, 1993 our capital ratio was a healthy 8.5 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 N.H.
 The company at March 31, 1993 had total assets of $533 million and deposits of $400 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
 (Unaudited)
 For the Three Months Ended
 Mar. 31, Mar. 31,
 1993 1992
 (In thousands)
 Consolidated Operating Earnings
 Interest and dividend income $8,542 $10,277
 Interest expense 3,865 5,951
 Net interest income 4,677 4,326
 Provision for possible loan losses 0 0
 Net interest income after
 provision for possible loan losses 4,677 4,326
 Non-interest income:
 Loan fees 114 117
 Deposit fees 334 313
 Other 75 91
 Securities gains 0 596
 Loan sales gains 108 34
 Total non-interest income 631 1,151
 Non-interest expense:
 Compensation and benefits 1,798 1,566
 Equipment and occupancy 678 598
 Foreclosed property 869 1,716
 Other administrative 1,288 1,542
 Total non-interest expense 4,633 5,422
 Income before income taxes 675 55
 Income taxes 0 0
 Net income 675 55
 Mar. 31, Mar. 31,
 Balance Sheet Data 1993 1992
 (in Thousands)
 Total assets $532,802 $495,428
 Loans, net 278,234 337,035
 Investments 221,216 116,311
 Deposits 399,930 441,486
 Borrowings 76,400 0
 Stockholders' equity 45,294 43,567
 Non-Performing Asset Data
 Non-accrual loans $15,155 $25,085
 Restructured loans 4,165 6,311
 Foreclosed property 11,189 17,160
 Total non-performing assets $30,509 $48,576
 Book value per share $7.53 $7.25
 Capital-to-asset ratio 8.50 pct 8.76 pct
 -0- 4/15/93
 /CONTACT: David W. Dailey or Sametta A. Glass, 508-681-7500, both of First Essex Bancorp, Inc./
 (FESX)


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

CH -- NE011 -- 6325 04/15/93 14:09 EDT
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Date:Apr 15, 1993
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