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FIRST WESTERN BANCORP, INC. ANNOUNCES FOURTH QUARTER AND FULL YEAR EARNINGS AND DIVIDEND

 NEW CASTLE, Pa., Jan. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- First Western Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ: FWBI) today announced results for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 1992 of $2,883,000, an increase of 17.3 percent or $425,000 from fourth quarter 1991 results of $2,458,000. On a per share basis, earnings in the fourth quarter were $0.58 versus last year's fourth quarter per share earnings of $0.62, a 6.5 percent reduction due to an increased number of weighted average shares outstanding of 4,939,000 for the fourth quarter of 1992 compared to 3,995,000 shares for the same quarter of last year. Outstanding shares have increased primarily due to the company's second quarter 1992 issuance of 863,000 shares in a common stock offering. Fourth quarter per share results were up 5.5 percent from third quarter 1992 per share earnings of $0.55.
 For the twelve months ended Dec. 31, 1992, net income was $11,211,000, up $2,689,000 or 31.6 percent from last year's net income of $8,522,000, with per share earnings for the full year 1992 at $2.39 versus last year's $2.13, an increase of 12.2 percent. Total weighted average shares outstanding for 1992 were 4,697,000 versus 3,995,000 for 1991.
 Total assets as of Dec. 31, 1992 were $1.235 billion, as compared to $1.088 billion at Dec. 31, 1991.
 Fourth quarter 1992 earnings showed improvement over last year's results because of substantially increased net interest income, up $2.2 million or 21.2 percent from $10.4 million in 1991 to $12.6 million in 1992, as well as an approximate 22 percent increase in other income. A 15 percent rise in other expenses and higher provision for possible loan losses and income taxes partially offset these increases.
 First Western added $1.0 million to its provision for restructuring costs in the fourth quarter, increasing the initial third quarter 1992 provision from $2.5 million to a total of $3.5 million for the year. Such restructuring costs are primarily associated with early retirement and severance programs related to the company's third quarter decision to consolidate all back office functions and to realign its bank subsidiary structure by combining two of its separately-chartered banks. In addition, the restructuring costs include costs associated with new signage, data processing conversion, forms and supplies, and legal and other consulting costs. The charge was increased in the fourth quarter due to a greater than anticipated acceptance of the company's early retirement program. The company anticipates realizing full benefit from its restructuring and realignment beginning in the second half of 1993 after all back office operations are consolidated and the two bank subsidiaries are combined.
 The company's provision for possible loan losses was $1.36 million in the fourth quarter of 1992, which was an increase from the previous year's $930,000 and the third quarter 1992 provision of $802,000. For the full year, the provision for possible loan losses was $3.8 million versus $2.7 million in 1991. This increase was primarily due to continued difficulties in the local economy resulting in an increase in nonaccrual loans and loans past due 90 days or more which increased from $4.5 million as of Dec. 31, 1991 and $5.6 million at Sept. 30, 1992 to $9.7 million as of Dec. 31, 1992. The fourth quarter increase in nonperforming loans was substantially caused by placing three commercial loans on nonaccrual status at year-end. Nonperforming loans include $2.4 million of residential mortgage loans, mostly in the company's thrift subsidiary, which management believes to be adequately secured.
 Total nonperforming loans as a percentage of total loans stood at 1.36 percent at year-end 1992 as compared to 0.66 percent last year and 0.78 percent at Sept. 30, 1992. Despite the increase, this ratio is still only one half of our peer group average of 2.77 percent as published in recent Federal Reserve statistics.
 First Western's full year results were up for similar reasons as in the fourth quarter with 34 percent higher net interest income provided by the company's fourth quarter, 1991 acquisition of certain branches, deposits and loans of the former Colony Federal Savings Bank, as well as a significantly improved net interest margin. Also helping to improve earnings for the year was a 21 percent increase in other income, exclusive of net securities gains of $1.6 million. Partially offsetting the 1992 increases in net interest income and other income was a 22 percent increase in other expenses, which is exclusive of $3.5 million of restructuring costs. Much of the increase in other expenses relates to the cost of operating the seven branches obtained in the Colony acquisition.
 Commenting on the fourth quarter and full year results, Thomas J. O'Shane, president and chief executive officer stated "We are pleased with 1992 performance, which continues the company's past five year compound growth rate of approximately 12 percent per year, despite the lingering effects of the national recession on our local economy. While any credit quality deterioration is of concern, the fourth quarter increase in nonaccrual loans was primarily concentrated in a limited number of loans, which the company placed on nonaccrual status after a through year-end review of all large credits in First Western's loan portfolio. Despite the increase in nonaccrual loans, our nonperforming loan and asset ratios continue to be better than peer group averages. We are also pleased with the company's progress in implementing our restructuring and earnings improvement program, with much of the consolidation scheduled to be in place before the end of the first quarter, and the bank combination scheduled for the end of the second quarter."
 At its regular meeting on Jan. 19, 1993, First Western's board of directors declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.20 per share of common stock on 4.9 million shares outstanding, with a record date of Feb. 1, 1993 and a payable date of Feb. 5, 1993.
 First Western Bancorp, Inc. is a multi-bank and thrift holding company headquartered in New Castle, Penn. and is the parent of bank subsidiaries First National Bank of Western Pennsylvania and Beaver Trust Company, a thrift subsidiary, First Federal of Western Pennsylvania, and a trust company, First Western Trust Services Company. Presently, there are 36 community branch banking offices and four trust services offices located in seven Western Pennsylvania counties and one Northeastern Ohio County.
 FIRST WESTERN BANCORP, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
 Selected Financial Data
 (Unaudited, in thousands, except per share amounts)
 Period ended Twelve Months Three Months
 December 31, 1992 1991 1992 1991
 Summary of Earnings:
 Interest income $96,224 $87,146 $23,757 $24,527
 Interest expense 47,838 50,989 11,200 14,096
 Net interest income 48,386 36,157 12,557 10,431
 Provision for possible
 loan losses 3,755 2,710 1,360 930
 Net interest income after
 provision for possible
 loan losses 44,631 33,447 11,197 9,501
 Other income 8,445 5,660 1,807 1,483
 Other expenses 37,026 27,425 8,913 7,732
 Income before income
 taxes 16,050 11,682 4,091 3,252
 Income tax expense 4,839 3,160 1,208 794
 Net income 11,211 8,522 2,883 2,458
 Per Share Data (1):
 Earnings per share $2.39 $2.13 $0.58 $0.62
 Dividends per share 0.76 0.71 0.20 0.18
 Average shares
 outstanding 4,697 3,995 4,939 3,995
 Book value per share
 (period end) $17.62 $15.58
 Balance Sheet Data: Dec. 31, 1992 Dec. 31, 1991
 (Totals at end of period)
 Assets $1,235,255 $1,087,752
 Investment securities 417,164 350,140
 Loans, net of unearned income 718,074 684,369
 Allowance for possible loan losses 10,846 8,876
 Deposits 961,223 933,554
 Federal Home Loan Bank advances
 with an original maturity greater
 than one year 84,500 34,000
 Long-term debt 13,533 14,221
 Shareholders' equity 85,605 62,243
 Period ended twelve months Dec. 31, 1992 Dec. 31, 1991
 Significant ratios:
 Return on average assets 0.97 pct. 0.89 pct
 Return on average equity 14.74 14.43
 Average loans as a percent average
 deposits 75.13 73.88
 Shareholders' equity as a percent
 period-end assets 6.93 5.72
 Tier 1 leverage ratio 6.84 6.20
 Net chargeoffs as a percent of
 average loans 0.25 0.20
 Nonaccrual loans to total loans 1.21 0.51
 Nonperforming assets and loans past
 due 90 days or more to total loans
 and other real estate owned
 and in-substance foreclosured 1.52 0.85
 Nonperforming assets to total assets 0.80 0.44
 Nonaccrual loans and loans past due
 90 days or more to total loans 1.36 0.66
 Allowance for possible loan losses
 as a percent of net loans 1.51 1.30
 Allowance for possible loan losses
 to nonaccrual loans 124.45 256.61
 Dividends as a percent of net income 31.88 33.15
 Net interest margin 4.54 4.15
 Effective tax rate 30.15 27.05
 -0- 1/19/93
 /CONTACT: Robert H. Young, senior vice president-finance, secretary and treasurer, or Linda M. Spinelli, stock transfer administrator, both of First Western Bancorp, 412-652-8550/
 (FWBI)


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

TM-LD -- NY105 -- 6649 01/19/93 20:45 EST
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