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FIRST FIDELITY REPORTS EARNINGS OF $65.5 MILLION OR 81 CENTS PER SHARE FOR FIRST QUARTER

 FIRST FIDELITY REPORTS EARNINGS OF $65.5 MILLION
 OR 81 CENTS PER SHARE FOR FIRST QUARTER
 LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J., April 14 /PRNewswire/ -- First Fidelity Bancorporation (NYSE: FFB) today reported first quarter 1992 earnings of $65.5 million, up 13.2 percent from fourth quarter 1991 earnings of $57.8 million and up 16.8 percent from first quarter 1991 earnings of $56.1 million. Last year's first quarter results included a pre-tax gain of $31 million from the sale of a finance subsidiary.
 The improvement in earnings was due primarily to strong net interest income and a reduced provision for possible credit losses. The net interest margin increased to 4.33 percent, non-performing loans declined by $59.7 million from the previous quarter's level, and return on average assets advanced to 90 basis points.
 "We are pleased with the improvement in the interest margin and asset quality," Tony Terracciano, chairman and chief executive officer, said. "The real value of our solid regional franchise is now starting to be reflected in the company's earnings. The continued weakness in the economy, however, makes it essential that we maintain a sharp focus on expense control and asset quality."
 Non-recurring items and net securities gains were minimal in the first quarter of 1992 with the company reporting $3.8 million in net securities gains. Fourth quarter 1991 results included $25.3 million in net securities gains, and, as noted above, the prior year's first quarter results included a one-time $31 million net gain from the sale of a subsidiary -- as well as $15.2 million in net securities gains.
 For the first quarter, earnings per common share on a fully diluted basis were $.81, compared to $.84 per common share for the 1991 fourth quarter and $.87 per common share for the first quarter of 1991. The reduction in earnings per share largely reflects the increase in average fully-diluted shares outstanding -- from 63.6 million in the first quarter of 1991 to 65.7 million in the fourth quarter of 1991 and to 77.9 million in the recent quarter.
 Asset Quality
 Non-performing loans decreased $59.7 million or 8.3 percent during the quarter and totaled $656.8 million at March 31, 1992, compared to $716.5 million at December 31, 1991, and $786.7 million at the end of the first quarter 1991.
 The provision for possible credit losses was $61 million for the first quarter, down from $79 million for the previous quarter and $85 million for the first quarter of 1991. Net charge-offs in the first quarter were $63.3 million, representing 1.48 percent of average loans on an annualized basis, down from net charge-offs of $77.2 million or 1.77 percent of annualized average loans in the fourth quarter of 1991 and $66.0 million or 1.50 percent of annualized average loans in the prior year's first quarter.
 At March 31, the reserve for possible credit losses totaled $607.3 million, compared to $609.6 million at December 31, 1991, and $564.4 million at March 31, 1991, and represented 3.52 percent of loans, unchanged from year-end 1991 and above the 3.23 percent at March 31, 1991. The ratio of the reserve to non-performing loans rose to 92 percent from 85 percent at year-end and from 72 percent at the end of the first quarter a year ago.
 During the quarter, non-performing assets declined 6.5 percent or $60.3 million to $868.7 million, down from $928.9 million at year-end and $963.2 million at March 31, 1991.
 Net Interest Income
 Taxable equivalent net interest income increased to $294.5 million for the 1992 first quarter, up $12.0 million from the $282.5 million level of the fourth quarter of 1991 and up $34.4 million from the $260.1 million earned in the first quarter of 1991. The net interest margin rose significantly during the quarter to 4.33 percent from 4.19 percent in the fourth quarter of 1991 and 3.92 percent in the first quarter of 1991.
 Average earning assets in the 1992 first quarter of $26.9 billion were up modestly from $26.7 billion during the fourth quarter of 1991 and up from $26.3 billion in the first quarter of 1991. Demand for residential mortgages, both for new purchases and refinancings, was strong, while indirect auto lending declined and average business loans were essentially flat.
 Core deposits (demand deposits and other consumer deposits) averaged $24.0 billion in the first quarter of 1992, up from $23.8 billion in the fourth quarter of 1991 and $22.8 billion in the first quarter of 1991, with the year-to-year increase largely reflecting acquisitions made during 1991. In the quarter, the growth in consumer savings and NOW accounts outpaced the decline in money market accounts and consumer certificates of deposit. Core deposits represented 138 percent of loans at March 31, 1992.
 Non-Interest Income
 Non-interest income in the first quarter of 1992 was $82.0 million, compared with $103.8 million in the fourth quarter of 1991 and $120.6 million in the first quarter of 1991. First quarter 1992 results included $3.8 million in net securities gains compared to $25.3 million in the fourth quarter of 1991 and $15.2 million in the first quarter of 1991. The prior year's first quarter results also included a one-time $31 million gain realized on the sale of a finance subsidiary.
 Service charges on deposit accounts increased to $31.3 million in the first quarter of 1992 from $27.9 million in the fourth quarter of 1991, and trust income rose to $21.9 million in the first quarter of 1992 from $21.3 million in the previous quarter. Other service charges, commissions and fees were up modestly at $19.2 million in the first quarter of 1992 from the previous quarter's $19.0 million.
 Non-Interest Expense
 The combination of stable expenses and rising operating income resulted in an improvement in the efficiency ratio--the relationship between non-interest expense and taxable equivalent operating income, excluding net securities gains and the $31 million gain on the sale of a subsidiary. The ratio moved down to 59.9 percent for the first quarter of 1992 from 62.0 percent for the fourth quarter of 1991 and 63.2 percent for the prior year's period. First quarter 1992 non- interest expense totaled $223.2 million, compared with $223.8 million in the fourth quarter of 1991 and $211.6 million in the first quarter of 1991. The remaining operating expenses of banks acquired during 1991 accounted for virtually all of the year-over-year increase. Approximately 50 percent of the acquired banks' annualized operating expenses already have been eliminated.
 Salaries and benefits expense for the first quarter 1992 was $99.8 million, compared to $95.0 million in the fourth quarter 1991. The $4.8 million quarter-to-quarter increase reflects in part the full- quarter impact of the expense base of Atlantic Financial acquired in November 1991, the lower level of payroll tax expense in last year's final quarter, and various differences in benefit accruals. At March 31, 1992, full-time employment was 10,475, compared to 10,625 at year- end.
 In the first quarter of 1992, equipment expense was $10.1 million and occupancy expense totaled $27.6 million, compared to $11.2 million and $26.7 million, respectively, in the fourth quarter of 1991. Other expenses in the first quarter 1992 declined to $85.7 million from $90.9 million in the fourth quarter of 1991, partly reflecting a $2.5 million decrease in OREO-related expenses.
 Balance Sheet Trends and Capital
 At March 31, 1992, First Fidelity had total assets of $29.2 billion, compared with $30.2 billion at year-end 1991, and $28.2 billion at March 31, 1991; total deposits of $24.4 billion, compared with $25.2 billion at year-end 1991 and $23.7 billion at March 31, 1991; and loans of $17.3 billion, unchanged from the year-end 1991 level and down modestly from $17.5 billion at March 31, 1991.
 At March 31, 1992, the Tier I leverage ratio was 6.14 percent, up from 5.98 percent at year-end 1991 and 4.58 percent at March 31, 1991. The risk-adjusted Tier I capital ratio was approximately 9.13 percent and the total risk-adjusted capital ratio was approximately 12.98 percent at March 31, 1992, improved from 8.65 percent and 12.47 percent, respectively, at year-end 1991 and 6.44 percent and 10.50 percent, respectively, at March 31, 1991.
 First Fidelity is the largest banking organization headquartered in New Jersey. With more than 500 branches in eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, its principal affiliates are the First Fidelity banks in New Jersey, Fidelity Bank of Philadelphia, Merchants Bank of Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Merchants Bank (North) of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
 FIRST FIDELITY BANCORPORATION AND SUBSIDIARIES
 Financial Summary
 (In thousands except per share)
 At period end March 31 March 31 Dec. 31
 1992 1991 1991
 Assets $29,177,667 $28,199,140 $30,215,229
 Deposits 24,397,630 23,673,181 25,218,550
 Loans 17,259,262 17,481,709 17,341,517
 Reserve for possible
 credit losses 607,255 564,385 609,599
 Stockholders' equity 1,999,373 1,524,825 1,944,782
 Reserve for possible
 credit losses/loans(pct.) 3.52 3.23 3.52
 Tier I leverage ratio(pct.) 6.14 4.58 5.98
 Tier I capital/risk-adjusted
 assets(pct.) (A) 9.13 6.44 8.65
 Total risk-based capital/risk
 adjusted assets(pct.) (A) 12.98 10.50 12.47
 Per common share:
 Book value $24.97 $22.85 $24.35
 Market price 35.13 25.00 32.50
 For the three months March 31 March 31 Dec. 31
 ended 1992 1991 1991
 Net income $65,461 $56,069 $57,828
 Per common share:
 Net income-primary $0.82 $0.88 $0.85
 Net income-fully diluted .81 .87 .84
 Return on average assets(pct.) .90 .79 .79
 Return on average
 stockholders' equity(pct.) 13.40 14.95 13.36
 Return on average common
 stockholders' equity(pct.) 13.97 15.69 14.03
 Average common shares and common
 stock equivalents outstanding:
 Primary 73,589,715 59,730,261 61,557,565
 Fully diluted 77,868,980 63,585,899 65,678,378
 (A) March 31, 1992 ratios are estimated.
 Consolidated Statements of Income
 (thousands)
 Three months ended 1992 1991 Increase/
 March 31 (decrease)
 Interest income:
 Interest and fees
 on loans $383,617 $440,042 $(56,425)
 Interest on federal funds
 sold and securities
 purchased under
 agreements to resell 7,863 12,884 (5,021)
 Interest and dividends on
 investment securities:
 Taxable interest income 108,064 121,742 (13,678)
 Tax-exempt interest income 15,165 17,518 (2,353)
 Dividends 956 932 24
 Interest on bank deposits 31,949 21,530 10,419
 Interest on trading
 account securities 1,671 1,687 (16)
 Total interest income 549,285 616,335 (67,050)
 Interest expense:
 Interest on:
 Deposits 237,612 323,538 (85,926)
 Short-term borrowings 11,506 21,818 (10,312)
 Long-term debt 16,123 23,093 (6,970)
 Total interest expense 265,241 368,449 (103,208)
 Net interest income 284,044 247,886 36,158
 Provision for possible
 credit losses 61,000 85,000 (24,000)
 Net interest income after
 provision for possible
 credit losses 223,044 162,886 60,158
 Non-interest income:
 Trust income 21,932 20,193 1,739
 Service charges on
 deposit accounts 31,259 27,103 4,156
 Other service charges,
 commissions and fees 19,231 19,826 (595)
 Trading income 3,142 1,881 1,261
 Net securities transactions 3,767 15,225 (11,458)
 Other income 2,679 36,327 (33,648)
 Total non-interest income 82,010 120,555 (38,545)
 Non-interest expense:
 Salaries and benefits
 expense 99,826 96,734 3,092
 Occupancy expense 27,593 25,908 1,685
 Equipment expense 10,067 10,415 (348)
 Other expenses 85,741 78,501 7,240
 Total non-interest expense 223,227 211,558 11,669
 Income before income taxes 81,827 71,883 9,944
 Income taxes 16,366 15,814 552
 Net income 65,461 56,069 9,392
 Dividends on preferred stock 5,271 3,320 1,951
 Net income applicable
 to common stock 60,190 52,749 7,441
 Per common share:
 Net income:
 Primary $0.82 $0.88 $(0.06)
 Fully diluted 0.81 0.87 (0.06)
 Consolidated Statements of Income
 (thousands)
 Three months ended March 31 Dec. 31 Increase/
 1992 1991 (decrease)
 Interest income:
 Interest and fees on loans $383,617 $404,186 $(20,569)
 Interest on federal funds
 sold and securities
 purchased under agreements
 to resell 7,863 14,329 (6,466)
 Interest and dividends on
 investments securities:
 Taxable interest income 108,064 112,295 (4,231)
 Tax-exempt interest income 15,165 15,991 (826)
 Dividends 956 1,112 (156)
 Interest on bank deposits 31,949 29,457 (2,492)
 Interest on trading
 account securities 1,671 1,675 (4)
 Total interest income 549,285 579,045 (29,760)
 Interest expense:
 Interest on:
 Deposits 237,612 274,757 (37,145)
 Short-term borrowings 11,506 15,686 (4,180)
 Long-term debt 16,123 17,355 (1,232)
 Total interest expense 265,241 307,798 (42,557)
 Net interest income 284,044 271,247 12,797
 Provision for possible
 credit losses 61,000 79,000 (18,000)
 Net interest income after
 provision for possible
 credit losses 223,044 192,247 30,797
 Non-interest income:
 Trust income 21,932 21,330 602
 Service charges on
 deposit accounts 31,259 27,862 3,397
 Other service charges,
 commissions and fees 19,231 19,021 210
 Trading income 3,142 3,541 (399)
 Net securities transactions 3,767 25,329 (21,562)
 Other income 2,679 6,717 (4,038)
 Total non-interest income 82,010 103,800 (21,790)
 Non-interest expense:
 Salaries and benefits expense 99,826 95,028 4,798
 Occupancy expense 27,593 26,668 925
 Equipment expense 10,067 11,211 (1,144)
 Other expenses 85,741 90,855 (5,114)
 Total non-interest expense 223,227 223,762 (535)
 Income before income taxes 81,827 72,285 9,542
 Income taxes 16,366 14,457 1,909
 Net income 65,461 57,828 7,633
 Dividends on preferred stock 5,271 5,298 (27)
 Net income applicable
 to common stock 60,190 52,530 7,660
 Per common share:
 Net income:
 Primary $0.82 $0.85 $(0.03)
 Fully diluted 0.81 0.84 (0.03)
 Consolidated Statements of Condition (Thousands)
 March 31 1992 1991
 Assets:
 Cash and due from banks $1,806,604 $1,299,163
 Interest bearing time deposits 2,157,502 1,355,555
 Investment securities (market value
 of $6,517,376 at March 31, 1992,
 and $6,081,229 at March 31, 1991) 6,416,711 6,040,865
 Trading account securities at
 market value 113,753 131,164
 Federal funds sold and securities
 purchased under agreements to resell 590,000 1,051,871
 Loans, net of unearned income 17,259,262 17,481,709
 Reserve for possible credit losses (607,255) (564,385)
 Premises and equipment 309,789 323,586
 Customers' acceptance liability 164,076 167,459
 Other assets 967,225 912,153
 Total assets 29,177,667 28,199,140
 Liabilities:
 Deposits in domestic offices:
 Demand deposits (non-interest
 bearing) 4,141,488 3,749,141
 Savings/NOW deposits 6,577,015 5,137,371
 Money market deposit accounts 3,759,995 3,714,356
 Other consumer time deposits 9,260,926 10,144,869
 Corporate certificates of deposit 437,966 677,499
 Deposits in overseas offices 220,240 249,945
 Total deposits 24,397,630 23,673,181
 Short-term borrowings 1,212,962 1,238,149
 Acceptances outstanding 166,090 172,396
 Other liabilities 488,073 488,252
 Long-term debt 913,539 1,102,337
 Total liabilities 27,178,294 26,674,315
 Stockholders' equity:
 Preferred stock 232,236 157,271
 Common stock ($1 par)
 Authorized: 150 million shares.
 Issued: 70,759,853 shares at
 March 31, 1992; 59,838,065 shares
 at March 31, 1991 70,760 59,838
 Surplus 929,107 685,707
 Retained earnings 767,270 622,009
 Total common stockholders' equity 1,767,137 1,367,554
 Total stockholders' equity 1,999,373 1,524,825
 Total liabilities and
 stockholders' equity 29,177,667 28,199,140
 Non-Performing Assets and Contractually Past Due Loans
 (Thousands)
 1992 1991
 March 31 Dec. 31 Sept. 30 June 30 March 31
 Non performing
 assets:
 Non-accruing loans:
 Domestic:
 Real estate $311,175 $324,318 $348,655 $346,576 $343,111
 Other 299,511 321,190 419,350 447,988 436,193
 Foreign 5,436 10,212 9,975 7,034 6,330
 Restructured
 loans 40,674 60,786 1,391 1,388 1,018
 Total non-performing
 loans 656,796 716,506 779,371 802,986 786,652
 Other real estate
 owned:
 Foreclosed
 property 94,312 79,384 70,567 64,619 58,737
 In-substance
 foreclosures 123,527 140,339 131,906 126,631 127,917
 Total other real
 estate owned 217,839 219,723 202,473 191,250 186,654
 Less reserve (5,978) (7,306) (10,004) (10,114) (10,120)
 Net other real
 estate owned 211,861 212,417 192,469 181,136 176,534
 Total non-performing
 assets 868,657 928,923 971,840 984,122 963,186
 Contractually
 past due loans:
 Consumer 130,747 134,720 89,867 79,432 72,246
 Other 11,005 10,686 28,451 19,249 29,083
 Total contractually
 past due
 loans (A) 141,752 145,406 118,318 98,681 101,329
 Non-performing loans/
 loans (pct.) 3.81 4.13 4.44 4.57 4.50
 Non-performing
 assets/loans and
 other real estate
 owned (pct.) 4.97 5.29 5.47 5.54 5.45
 (A) Accruing loans past due 90 days or more.
 Reconciliation of Reserve for Possible Credit Losses
 (Thousands)
 Three months ended March 31 1992 1991
 Beginning balance $609,599 $556,172
 Provision 61,000 85,000
 Total 670,599 641,172
 Charge-offs 76,089 74,479
 Recoveries 12,745 8,492
 Net charge-offs 63,344 65,987
 Balance related to sale
 of subsidiary --- (10,800)
 Ending balance 607,255 564,385
 Ratios:
 Net charge-offs as a percent of
 average loans (annualized) 1.48 1.50
 Reserve as a percent of loans 3.52 3.23
 Reserve as a percent of
 non-performing loans 92 72
 /delval/
 -0- 4/14/92
 /CONTACT: Paul J. Levine (media), 201-565-2949, or Laura A. Schaible (analysts), 609-895-6895, both of First Fidelity Bancorporation/
 (FFB) CO: First Fidelity Bancorporation ST: New Jersey IN: FIN SU: ERN


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