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 NEW CASTLE, Pa., Oct. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- First Western Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ: FWBI) today announced increased earnings for the third quarter ended Sept. 30, 1993, of $3,421,000 or $0.66 per share, as compared to $2,707,000, or $0.52 per share for the same three-month period in 1992.
 Net income was up 26.4 percent and earnings per share were up 26.9 percent. Per share figures noted herein for 1992 have been restated to reflect a 5 percent stock dividend distributed on Aug. 20, 1993.
 For the nine months ended Sept. 30, 1993, First Western earned $2.06 per share, up 19.8 percent from last year's nine month results of $1.72 per share. Net income was up 28.4 percent from $8,328,000 for nine months last year to $10,696,000 for the first nine months of 1993. Net income was up more than per share results due to higher average shares and share equivalents outstanding, up from 4.8 million last year to 5.2 million in 1993.
 Thomas J. O'Shane, president and chief executive officer of First Western Bancorp, Inc., stated, "Management and the board are gratified with year-to-date results, particularly with the completion of internal restructuring efforts and apparent savings now being reflected in net income. With the recent consolidation of our lead banks into First Western Bank, N.A., and the forthcoming renaming of our thrift subsidiary from First Federal of Western Pennsylvania to First Western Bank, F.S.B., scheduled for Nov. 15, 1993, we have created a more powerful image of our organization that allows us to more effectively market our consolidated products and services while ensuring customer responsiveness in our community-centered organization."
 Return on average assets for the first nine months of 1993 was an annualized 1.10 percent, as compared to 0.97 percent last year, and return on average equity was 15.95 percent vs. 14.97 percent for the corresponding periods.
 Total assets at Sept. 30, 1993, were $1.393 billion, as compared to $1.235 billion at Dec. 31, 1992, up 12.8 percent, with most of the increase reflected in investment securities and securities available for sale, up 31.6 percent from a combined $417 million at Dec. 31, 1992, to $549 million at Sept. 30, 1993. Net loans were up 8.4 percent from $718 million at year-end to $779 million at Sept. 30, 1993, with approximately $30 million of the growth representing purchased residential mortgages.
 Third quarter 1993 earnings were up significantly from the comparable period in 1992 due primarily to last year's $2.5 million restructuring charge impacting other expenses, offset somewhat by a net securities gain of $1.5 million which increased other income. Without these factors affecting 1992 net income, results on both a net income and per share basis between the two quarterly periods were comparable.
 For the quarter, net interest income was slightly lower than last year's same period, at $12.6 million vs. $12.7 million last year. In spite of an increase in earning assets of $188 million over the past year, a decrease in the yield on investments and securities available for sale due to greater than anticipated mortgage-backed security prepayments and a change in portfolio mix to more shorter-term and adjustable rate mortgage-backed securities, as well as a decrease in loan yields due to residential and commercial mortgage refinancings or rate modifications, have combined to reduced earning asset yields faster than the cost of funds. The net interest margin for the quarter ended Sept. 30, 1993, was 4.02 percent as compared to last year's third quarter 4.64 percent, and first and second quarter 1993 results of 4.60 percent and 4.26 percent, respectively.
 On a year-to-date basis, net interest income was up 6.9 percent from $35.8 million to $38.3 million, due to higher earning assets and higher margins earlier in 1993. The net interest margin for the nine-month period was 4.28 percent, vs. 4.54 percent last year.
 The provision for possible loan losses for the quarter ended Sept. 30, 1993, was $825,000 as compared to last year's quarterly provision of $802,000 and the 1993 second quarter provision of $930,000. The year-to-date provision for 1993 was $2,585,000 as compared to $2,395,000 last year, up 7.9 percent. Nonperforming loans, defined as nonaccrual loans and loans past due 90 days or more, decreased to $8.4 million at Sept. 30, 1993, from $9.6 million at June 30, 1993, and $9.7 million at year-end 1992. Nonperforming assets (nonperforming loans plus other real estate owned or in-substance foreclosed) also decreased to $10.8 million from $11.8 million at June 30, 1993, and $10.9 million at Dec. 31, 1992. Total delinquencies also dropped to $15.9 million from $16.3 million last quarter and $19.3 million at year-end 1992.
 At quarter-end, nonperforming loans to total loans were 1.07 percent, down from 1.31 percent last quarter, and nonperforming assets to total loans and real estate owned was 1.38 percent, down from 1.61 percent last quarter. Net chargeoffs increased in the quarter to an annualized 0.33 percent of average loans due to the partial chargeoff of a commercial nonperforming loan. Since this loan has been included in First Western's watch list of substandard or lower loans for over two years and was therefore a part of the quarterly analysis of the adequacy of the allowance for possible loan losses, management did not deem it necessary to increase the provision for possible loan losses this quarter above normal levels. The allowance for possible loan losses stood at 1.50 percent of net loans at quarter-end, providing 1.4 times coverage for nonperforming loans.
 Exclusive of last year's third quarter security gain of $1.5 million, total other income was up 21 percent in the quarter to $1.9 million with increases recorded in all categories, particularly deposit account service charges due to standardization of fee schedules between subsidiaries and fee increases. On a year-to-date basis, excluding security gains of $580,000 this year and $1.7 million last year, total other income was up 7.0 percent with increases in deposit account service charges and credit card programs offset somewhat by a 6.7 percent decrease in trust fees and a slight reduction in other operating income.
 Excluding a $2.5 million restructuring charge from the 1992 third quarter, total other expenses for the quarter were about flat at $8.7 million for both periods. Nine month total other expenses were up just 1.2 percent, net of last year's restructuring charge, from $25.6 million last year to $25.9 million this year, due primarily to lower full-time equivalent staff levels as a result of the recently completed back office consolidation and other Earnings Improvement Plan suggestions. Elimination of outside data processing servicers for thrift associations purchased in 1990 and 1991 also contributed to significant cost savings.
 At First Western's regular board meeting of Oct. 19, 1993, a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.22 per share on 5,144,379 shares outstanding was declared, with a record date of Nov. 1, 1993, and a payable date of Nov. 5, 1993. With last quarter's 10 percent increase in the cash dividend, as well as the issuance of a 5 percent stock dividend, total cash dividends are up 16.2 percent year-to-date, and 7.4 percent on a per share basis from $0.54 last year to $0.58 this year. At quarter-end, First Western's stock price was $31.00 per share, or 169 percent of the $18.33 book value, and 11.9 times the last four quarters' trailing earnings per share.
 First Western Bancorp, Inc., a multi-bank holding company headquartered in New Castle, is the parent of First Western Bank, N.A., First Federal of Western Pennsylvania and First Western Trust Services Co., with 36 branch banking offices and four trust service offices located in seven western Pennsylvania counties and one northeastern Ohio county. First Western Bank, N.A. was created Sept. 10, 1993, from the merger of affiliate banks First National Bank of Western Pennsylvania and Beaver Trust Company.
 Selected Financial Data
 (In thousands, except per share amounts)
 Periods Ended Three Months Nine Months
 Sept. 30 1993 1992 1993 1992
 Summary of earnings:
 Interest income $23,880 $24,506 $71,412 $72,467
 Interest expense 11,237 11,795 33,112 36,638
 Net interest income 12,643 12,711 38,300 35,829
 Provision for possible
 loan losses 825 802 2,585 2,395
 Net interest income after
 provision for possible loan
 losses 11,818 11,909 35,715 33,434
 Other income 1,939 3,138 5,911 6,638
 Other expenses 8,698 11,158 25,917 28,113
 Income before income taxes 5,059 3,889 15,709 11,959
 Income tax expense 1,638 1,182 5,013 3,631
 Net income 3,421 2,707 10,696 8,328
 Per share data(A):
 Earnings per share $0.66 $0.52 $2.06 $1.72
 Dividends per share $0.21 $0.19 $0.58 $0.54
 Average shares outstanding 5,212 5,181 5,204 4,846
 Book value per share
 (period end) $18.33 $16.41
 Market price per share
 (period end) $31.00 $25.48
 Balance sheet data Sept. 30, 1993 Dec. 31, 1992
 (Totals at end of period)
 Assets $1,392,810 $1,235,255
 Investment securities 111,160 100,962
 Securities available for sale 437,846 316,202
 Loans, net of unearned income 778,700 718,074
 Allowance for possible loan losses 11,645 10,846
 Deposits 981,069 961,223
 Short-term borrowings 114,944 50,434
 Term repurchase agreements with an
 original maturity greater than
 one year 52,520 --
 Federal Home Loan Bank advances
 with an original maturity
 greater than one year 122,000 84,500
 Long-term debt 12,972 13,533
 Shareholders' equity 94,298 85,605
 Nine Months Ended
 Sept. 30, 1993 Sept. 30, 1992
 Significant ratios:
 Return on average assets 1.10 pct. 0.97 pct.
 Return on average equity 15.95 pct. 14.97 pct.
 Avg. loans as a pct. of
 avg. deposits 75.75 pct. 75.10 pct.
 Shareholders' equity as a pct.
 of period-end assets 6.77 pct. 6.69 pct.
 Tier 1 leverage ratio 6.70 pct. 6.60 pct.
 Net chargeoffs as a pct. of
 average loans 0.33 pct. 0.22 pct.
 Nonaccrual loans to total loans 0.86 pct. 0.64 pct.
 Nonperforming assets and loans
 past due 90 days or more to
 total loans and other real
 estate owned and in-substance
 foreclosured 1.38 pct. 0.94 pct.
 Nonperforming assets to total
 assets 0.66 pct. 0.46 pct.
 Nonaccrual loans and loans past
 due 90 days or more to total
 loans 1.07 pct. 0.78 pct.
 Allowance for possible loan
 losses as a pct. of net loans 1.50 pct. 1.41 pct.
 Allowance for possible loan
 losses to nonaccrual loans 173.16 pct. 222.58 pct.
 Dividends as a pct. of net
 income 28.27 pct. 31.25 pct.
 Net interest margin 4.28 pct. 4.54 pct.
 Effective tax rate 31.91 pct. 30.36 pct.
 (A) Per share amounts and average shares outstanding have been restated to reflect the 5 percent stock dividend declared on July 20, 1993.
 -0- 10/19/93
 /CONTACT: Robert H. Young, senior vice president-finance, secretary and treasurer, of First Western, 412-652-8550/

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

CD-KC -- PG020 -- 4252 10/19/93 18:10 EDT
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Date:Oct 19, 1993

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