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FIRST WESTERN BANCORP, INC., ANNOUNCES RECORD QUARTERLY EARNINGS

 FIRST WESTERN BANCORP, INC., ANNOUNCES RECORD QUARTERLY EARNINGS
 NEW CASTLE, Pa., April 21 /PRNewswire/ -- First Western Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ: FWBI) today announced record quarterly earnings, reporting net income of $2,554,000, or $0.64 per share, for the first quarter ended March 31, 1992, as compared to $1,962,000, or $0.49 per share, for the same period in 1991, representing an increase of 30.2 percent in net income and 30.6 percent in per share earnings.
 First Western's first quarter earnings exceeded the fourth quarter of 1991 by 3.2 percent, when earnings were $0.62 per share. First quarter 1991 earnings per share have been restated to reflect the impact of a three-for-two stock split effected in the form of a 50 percent stock dividend distributed on Feb. 18, 1992, and a 5 percent stock dividend paid on Aug. 30, 1991. Per share earnings are based on 3,994,670 shares outstanding in each period.
 First Western's 862,500 share common stock offering completed on April 2, 1992, will be reflected in future quarterly earnings per share calculations, with total outstanding shares increasing to 4,857,170. Total net proceeds from the common stock offering approximated $15.6 million.
 Total assets as of March 31, 1992, were $1.13 billion, as compared to $894 million on March 31, 1991, a 26.4 percent increase, with most of the increase the result of the fourth quarter 1991 acquisition of certain branches and deposits of the former Colony Federal Savings Bank from the Resolution Trust Corporation. Total shareholders' equity increased to $64.1 million from $57.7 million last year, an 11.1 percent increase. While the Tier 1 leverage ratio decreased from 6.27 percent last year to 5.55 percent at March 31, 1992, the ratio, including the results of the stock offering, would have been approximately 6.7 percent at March 31, 1992. Return on average assets improved to 0.93 percent from 0.89 percent last year, and return on average equity increased from 14.00 percent to 16.31 percent. As a result of the stock offering, return on average assets should improve slightly but return on equity is anticipated to decrease to levels more in line with historical performance.
 First Western recognized substantial quarterly eanrings improvement principally as a result of higher levels of net interest income and other income, offset, in part, by increasing the provision for possible loan losses and other expenses.
 First Western's net interest income increased 36.2 percent from $8.2 million to $11.2 million, due both to an increase in average earning assets and an improvement in the net interest margin from 4.10 percent to 4.41 percent. Total cost of funds dropped more rapidly than did earning asset rates, as deposits and short-term borrowings repriced more quickly than First Western's loan and investment assets.
 Growth in net interest income was accompanied by a 26 percent increase in other income, primarily in service charges on deposits and credit card fees, offset by a 36 percent increase in other expenses, primarily for normal operating costs of the new branches acquired as well as increases in FDIC insurance premiums, data and credit card processing, and other normal operating expenses.
 The provision for possible loan losses in the 1992 first quarter was $732,000, as compared to $534,000 in last year's first quarter, but down from the $930,000 recorded in the fourth quarter of 1991. Net chargeoffs for the quarter were $477,000, or 0.28 percent of average loans on an annualized basis, and nonaccrual loans were $3.5 million or 0.51 percent of total loans, the same amount as at Dec. 31, 1991. Nonperforming assets were $4.7 million at March 31, 1992, as compared to $4.8 million at Dec. 31, 1991. First Western's allowance for possible loan losses increased from $8.9 million at year-end to $9.1 million at March 31, 1992, representing 1.31 percent of total loans and providing coverage of 2.6 times period-end nonaccrual loans. While total nonaccrual loans and nonperforming assets were flat in the first quarter, total loans delinquent 30 days or more dropped from $15.1 million at the end of 1991 to $12.6 million as of March 31, 1992.
 First Western Bancorp, Inc., a multi-bank holding company headquartered in New Castle, Pa., is the parent of First National Bank of Western Pennsylvania, Beaver Trust Company, First Federal of Western Pennsylvania and First Western Trust Services Company, with currently 36 branch banking offices located in seven western Pennsylvania counties and one northeastern Ohio county.
 FIRST WESTERN BANCORP, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
 Selected Financial Data
 (In thousands, except per share amounts; unaudited)
 Three Months Ended March 31 1992 1991
 Summary of Earnings:
 Interest income $23,893 $20,782
 Interest expense 12,675 12,547
 Net interest income 11,218 8,235
 Provision for possible loan losses 732 534
 Net interest income after provision
 for possible loan losses 10,486 7,701
 Other income 1,738 1,380
 Other expenses 8,532 6,275
 Income before income taxes 3,692 2,806
 Income tax expense 1,138 844
 Net income 2,554 1,962
 Per Share Data (A):
 Earnings per share $0.64 $0.49
 Dividends per share $0.18 $0.17
 Average shares outstanding 3,995 3,995
 Book value per share period end $16.04 $14.45
 Balance Sheet Data: March 31, 1992 March 31, 1991
 (Totals at end of period)
 Assets $1,130,568 $894,171
 Investment securities 371,637 285,795
 Loans, net of unearned income 697,550 555,679
 Allowance for possible loan losses 9,131 7,218
 Deposits 920,473 746,990
 Long-term debt 14,071 14,759
 Shareholders' equity 64,063 57,737
 Three Months Ended March 31 1992 1991
 Significant Ratios:
 Return on average assets 0.93 pct. 0.89 pct.
 Return on average equity 16.31 14.00
 Avg. loans as a pct. of avg. deposits 74.21 74.41
 Shareholders' equity as a percent of
 period-end assets 5.67 6.46
 Tier 1 leverage ratio 5.55 6.27
 Allowance for possible loan losses as
 a percent of net loans 1.31 1.30
 Net chargeoffs as a pct. of avg. loans 0.28 0.14
 Dividends as a percent of net income 28.74 35.58
 Net interest margin 4.41 4.10
 Effective tax rate 30.82 30.08
 (A) All per share amounts have been restated to reflect the effect of a 5 percent stock dividend paid on Aug. 30, 1991, and a three-for-two stock split paid on Feb. 18, 1992.
 -0- 4/21/92
 /CONTACT: Robert H. Young, senior vice president-finance, secretary and treasurer, of First Western Bancorp, 412-652-8550, ext. 137/
 (FWBI) CO: First Western Bancorp, Inc. ST: Pennsylvania IN: FIN SU: ERN


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