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FIRST WESTERN BANCORP, INC. ANNOUNCES 20 PERCENT INCREASE IN SECOND QUARTER NET INCOME

 NEW CASTLE, Pa., July 20 /PRNewswire/ -- First Western Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ: FWBI) today announced record quarterly earnings of $3,683,000 for the second quarter ended June 30, 1993, as compared to $3,067,000 earned in the same period in 1992, an increase of 20.1 percent.
 On a per share basis, earnings were up 18.3 percent to $0.71 in the second quarter from $0.60 earned in the second quarter of 1992. Earnings were up slightly from the first quarter's $0.69 per share. All per share figures noted herein have been restated to reflect a 5 percent stock dividend declared today to be distributed on Aug. 20, 1993.
 For the six months ended June 30, 1993, First Western earned $1.40 per share on 5.20 million average shares outstanding, up 16.7 percent from the $1.20 per share earned in the comparable period last year on 4.68 million average shares outstanding. Net income for the first half of 1993 was $7,275,000 as compared to $5,621,000 in last year's first six months, up 29.4 percent.
 Return on average assets for the first six months of 1993 was 1.16 percent, as compared to 1.01 percent last year, calculated on an annualized basis, and return on average equity was 16.63 percent year-to-date for 1993 compared to 16.00 percent last year.
 Total assets at June 30, 1993, were $1.342 billion, compared to $1.235 billion at year-end, up 8.7 percent, and $1.163 billion at June 30, 1992, up 15.4 percent. Most of the asset growth has been in securities, as net loans increased only 1.6 percent from year-end, and 3.0 percent from June 30, 1992.
 Second quarter 1993 earnings improved significantly over last year's results due to a 9.2 percent increase in net interest income, from $11.9 million last year to $13.0 million this year, and a 15.1 percent increase in other income. Higher income taxes, a slightly higher provision for possible loan losses, plus a small 3.0 percent increase in operating expenses partially offset the higher levels of income.
 In spite of a lower net interest margin, net interest income increased due to an approximate 13 percent increase in earning assets. The second quarter margin was 4.26 percent, down from last year's 4.55 percent and the first quarter's 4.60 percent, principally du the completion of an asset/liability strategy. The strategy, designed to reduce interest rate risk in a rising rate environment, involved purchasing $100 million in adjustable-rate and short-term fixed-rate mortgage-backed securities funded by a combin agreements and term borrowings. In addition, First Western has experienced more rapid prepayments of its existing higher-rate mortgage-backed securities portfolio and residential mortgage loans as homeowners continue to refinance in the current low interest rate environment.
 Other income for the quarter was up from last year's $1.76 million to $2.03 million due to increases in net securities gains and service charges on deposit accounts. Other expenses only increased $250,000 from last year's $8.42 million to the $8.67 million recorded in the second quarter of 1993. Most of this increase was in salaries and employee benefits, as the company's early retirement and severance programs implemented as a result of last year's Earnings Improvement Program did not end until the second quarter. Since full-time equivalent employees decreased to 510 at June 30, 1993, from last quarter's 528 and last year's 545, it is expected the company will see additional savings during the remainder of 1993. The company's efficiency ratio improved to 58.1 percent for the first six months of 1993, as compared to 63.7 percent last year, and net overhead to total average assets, exclusive of securities gains, has improved to 2.20 percent from last year's 2.43 percent.
 The provision for possible loan losses was $930,000 in the second quarter of 1993, up slightly from last year's $861,000 and the first quarter's $830,000. While nonaccrual loans and loans past due 90 days or more increased slightly from $9.1 million last quarter to $9.6 million at June 30, 1993, total delinquencies were fairly flat at $16.3 million compared to $16.0 million last quarter. At year-end nonperforming loans were $9.7 million and total delinquencies were $19.3 million. At quarter-end, the company's ratio of nonaccrual loans plus loans past due 90 days or more to total loans was 1.31 percent, and nonperforming assets to total loans and real estate owned was 1.44 percent. The ratio of nonperforming assets to total assets was 0.78 percent, and net chargeoffs year-to-date (annualized) were 0.21 percent. The allowance for possible loans losses stood at $11.9 million at June 30, 1993, providing 1.24 times coverage of nonperforming loans.
 For the first six months of 1993, total net income was up for similar reasons compared to second quarter results, as a significant increase in net interest income fueled a $2.6 million increase in pretax income. An increase in other income of 13.5 percent was primarily due to net securities gains, up $450,000 from last year, but other expenses were only up $264,000 or 1.6 percent. An increase in the provision for possible loan losses to $1.76 million from last year's $1.59 million and higher income taxes were the other factors affecting net income for the first six months of 1993.
 "In spite of minimal loan growth, the historically wide spread between short and long term interest rates and greater securities balances have helped to significantly increase net interest income," commented Thomas J. O'Shane, president and chief executive officer of First Western. "While we have seen a recent pickup in consumer loans and mortgage applications, the high prepayments in the existing loan portfolio have mostly offset this activity. We are, however, pleased that expenses remain well under control this year given lower economic activity, which is a tribute to the hard work put in over the past year by management and our employees in implementing our functional area consolidations and Earnings Improvement Program suggestions."
 First Western Bancorp, Inc. is a multi-bank and thrift holding company based in New Castle, with 36 community offices in its banking subsidiaries First National Bank of Western Pennsylvania, Beaver Trust Company, and First Federal of Western Pennsylvania. It also owns a trust affiliate, First Western Trust Services Company.
 As previously announced, First Western's banking subsidiaries will be renamed later this year as "First Western Bank," when First National and Beaver Trust are combined.
 FIRST WESTERN BANCORP, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
 Selected Financial Data
 (In thousands, except per share amounts)
 (Unaudited)
 Summary of Earnings:
 Periods Ended Three Months Six Months
 June 30 1993 1992 1993 1992
 Interest income $24,123 $24,068 $47,532 $47,961
 Interest expense 11,132 12,168 21,875 24,843
 12,991 11,900 25,657 23,118
 Provision for possible
 loan losses 930 861 1,760 1,593
 Net interest income after
 provision for possible
 loan losses 12,061 11,039 23,897 21,525
 Other income 2,028 1,762 3,972 3,500
 Other expenses 8,674 8,423 17,219 16,955
 Income before income taxes 5,415 4,378 10,650 8,070
 Income tax expense 1,732 1,311 3,375 2,449
 Net income 3,683 3,067 7,275 5,621
 Per share data(A):
 Earnings per share $0.71 $0.60 $1.40 $1.20
 Dividends per share $0.19 $0.17 $0.38 $0.35
 Average shares outstanding 5,206 5,090 5,200 4,675
 Book value per share
 (period end) $17.86 $16.06 -- --
 Market price per share
 (period end) $28.81 $23.57 -- --
 Balance Sheet Data: 6/30/93 12/31/92
 (Totals at end of period)
 Assets $1,342,063 $1,235,255
 Investment securities 113,573 100,962
 Securities available for sale 441,402 316,202
 Loans, net of unearned income 729,809 718,074
 Allowance for possible loan losses 11,864 10,846
 Deposits 974,141 961,223
 Short-term borrowings 85,745 50,434
 Term repurchase agreements with an
 original maturity greater than
 one year 37,520 --
 Federal Home Loan Bank advances
 with an original maturity greater
 than one year 114,500 84,500
 Long-term debt 13,209 13,533
 Shareholders' equity 91,526 85,605
 Significant Ratios:
 Period Ended Six Months
 June 30 1993 pct. 1992 pct.
 Return on average assets 1.16 1.01
 Return on average equity 16.63 16.00
 Average loans as a pct. of
 average deposits 75.22 75.15
 Shareholders' equity as a pct.
 of period-end assets 6.82 7.04
 Tier 1 leverage ratio 6.75 6.94
 Net chargeoffs as a pct. of
 average loans 0.21 0.24
 Nonaccrual loans to total loans 1.14 0.62
 Nonperforming assets and loans
 past due 90 days or more to
 total loans and other real estate
 owned and in-substance
 foreclosured 1.61 0.94
 Nonperforming assets to total
 assets 0.78 0.48
 Nonaccrual loans and loans past due
 90 days or more to total loans 1.31 0.77
 Allowance for possible loan losses
 as a pct. of net loans 1.63 1.36
 Allowance for possible loan losses
 to nonaccrual loans 142.78 220.38
 Dividends as a pct. of net income 26.78 29.01
 Net interest margin 4.42 4.48
 Effective tax rate 31.69 30.35
 (A) Per share amounts and average shares outstanding have been restated to reflect the 5 percent stock dividend declared on July 20, 1993.
 -0- 7/20/93
 /CONTACT: Robert H. Young, senior vice president-finance, secretary and treasurer, or Linda M. Spinelli, stock transfer supervisor, 412-652-8550, both of First Western/
 (FWBI)


CO: First Western Bancorp, Inc. ST: Pennsylvania IN: FIN SU: ERN

CD-CC -- PG015 -- 3585 07/20/93 16:54 EDT
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