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FIRST WESTERN BANCORP ANNOUNCES RECORD FOURTH QUARTER AND FULL YEAR 1991 EARNINGS

 FIRST WESTERN BANCORP ANNOUNCES RECORD
 FOURTH QUARTER AND FULL YEAR 1991 EARNINGS
 NEW CASTLE, Pa., /PRNewswire/ -- First Western Bancorp. Inc. (NASDAQ: FWBI) today announced net income for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 1991 of $2,458,000 or 92 cents per share, as compared to $1,822,000 or 81 cents per share for the fourth quarter 1990, representing an increase of 13.6 percent in earnings per share and 34.9 percent in net income. Earnings per share for prior quarters during 1991 were 74 cents in the first quarter, 79 cents in the second quarter and 75 cents in the third quarter. For the entire year of 1991, net income was $8,522,000, increasing 41.9 percent from the $6,004,000 recorded in 1990. Earnings per share for the year ended Dec. 31, 1991 were $3.20, representing an increase of 11.5 percent above the $2.87 recorded for the year ended Dec. 31, 1990. Both fourth quarter and full year 1991 earnings results represented record performance for the company. Return on average assets was .89 percent for 1991, as compared to 1 percent for 1990; and return on average shareholders equity was 14.43 percent in 1991, compared to 13.72 percent for 1990.
 First Western's record earnings in 1991 and for the fourth quarter were due primarily to the positive contributions provided by the Nov. 30, 1990 acquisition of First Federal of Western Pennsylvania, and the acquisition of nine branches of the former Colony Federal Savings Bank (Colony) from the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC) on Oct. 11, 1991. In addition to acquiring approximately $155 million in deposits, the company retained residential mortgage loans totaling $75 million from the RTC that were purchased at a significant discount to their fair market value. First Western also purchased approximately $65 million in medium-term average life mortgage-backed securities in anticipation of cash settlements received from the RTC with yields in excess of current market rates. Also contributing to improved earnings in 1991 was the company's ability to reduce its cost of funds by a greater percentage than the lower yields earned on interest-bearing assets during a rapidly declining interest rate environment. Finally, the late 1990 and 1991 restructuring of the investment portfolio by lengthening the average maturity of investments, provided higher investment yields earned and an investment portfolio total market value exceeding book value by approximately $14 million at year end. Earnings improvements from these factors were partially offset by a significant increase in FDIC insurance premiums and certain other expenses as well as a higher provision for possible loan losses.
 For the entire year 1991 the provision for possible loan losses was $2,170,000, as compared to $2 million for 1990. A $930,000 provision for possible loan losses was recorded in the fourth quarter of 1991, up from last year's fourth quarter provision of $715,000, but comparable to the third quarter 1991 provision of $835,000. The total allowance for possible loan losses at Dec. 31, 1991 was $8,876,000, which includes a $500,000 special allowance for certain delinquent loans in the colony mortgage portfolio, recorded as part of purchase accounting for the transaction. The allowance represents 1.30 of total loans at Dec. 31, 1991, as compared to 1.23 percent of total loans at Dec. 31, 1990, when the allowance was $6,870,000. Net loan charge-offs for 1991 were $1,203,000, which is approximately .20 percent as a percentage of average loans, as compared to $585,000, or .15 percent of total average loans for 1990.
 Total non-performing loans were $4,507,000 or .66 percent of total loans at Dec. 31, 1991, as compared to $2,664,000, or .48 percent of total loans at Dec. 31, 1990. Total non-performing assets, which include other real estate owned or in-substance foreclosed and non-performing loans, were $5,720,000 at Dec. 31, 1991, as compared to $4,276,000 at Dec. 31, 1990. After experiencing increases in these categories throughout 1991, non-performing loans leveled off in the fourth quarter from the third quarter total of $4,409,000, and with the increased provision in the fourth quarter, resulted in a ratio of the allowance for possible loan losses to total non-performing loans of 197 percent, well above peer group averages. Also, First Western's loan delinquency ratio dropped from 2.42 percent for all past due and non- performing loans as a percentage of total loans at Sept. 30, 1991 to 2.20 percent at Dec. 31, 1991. Delinquencies of approximately 4 percent in the acquired Colony loan portfolio at Dec. 31, 1991 would have increased this ratio slightly; however delinquencies on First Western's other loans decreased in the fourth quarter as a result of aggressive loan collection procedures and charge-offs. Loan delinquency, net loan charge-off and non-performing ratios remain well below peer group statistics for banks in the one billion dollar asset size range.
 Total as of Dec. 31, 1991, were $1,087,752,000 compared to $932,531,000 at Sept. 30, 1991 and $890,468,000 at Dec. 31, 1990, with most of the increase from the prior year and third quarter coming from the acquisition of Colony. Shareholders' equity increased to $62,243,000 from $56,473,000 at Dec. 31, 1990, with a ratio of tier one common equity to period end adjusted assets of 5.59 percent. Book value per share increased $23.37 at Dec. 31, 1991, as compared to $21.21 at the end of 1990. First Western's common stock price increased 43.1 percent during 1991 to close the year at $24.50 or 105 percent of book value. In addition, the stock price has continued to climb during the first few weeks of 1992 to a current price in excess of $28.00.
 In a separate release issued yesterday, First Western announced a three-for-two stock split, to be effected in the from of a 50 percent stock dividend, with record date of Jan. 28, 1992 and payable Feb. 18, 1992. While First Western's per share information indicated above has not been restated for this stock split, all 1990 per share information has been restated to reflect a 5 percent stock dividend paid on Aug. 30, 1991.
 First Western Bancorp, Inc., headquartered in New Castle, is a $1.1 billion bank holding company, and 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 39 branch banking offices located in seven western Pennsylvania counties and one county in northeastern Ohio.
 FIRST WESTERN BANCORP, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
 (Unaudited, in thousands except per share amounts)
 Periods ended Twelve months Three months
 Dec. 31: 1991 1990 1991 1990
 Interest income $87,114 $56,868 $24,495 $16,431
 Interest expense 50,957 32,293 14,064 9,561
 Net interest income 36,157 24,575 10,431 6,870
 Prov. for possible
 loan losses 2,710 2,000 930 715
 Net interest income after
 prov. for possible loan
 losses 33,447 22,575 9,501 6,155
 Other income 5,660 4,115 1,483 1,200
 Other expenses 27,425 18,600 7,732 4,980
 Income before income taxes 11,682 8,090 3,252 2,375
 Income tax expense 3,160 2,086 794 553
 Net income 8,522 6,004 2,458 1,822
 Per share data(A):
 Earnings per share $3.20 $2.87 $0.92 $0.81
 Dividends per share $1.06 $0.97 $0.27 $0.24
 Average shares outstanding 2,663 2,095 2,663 2,251
 Book value per share
 period end $23.37 $21.21
 Balance Sheet Data
 (Totals at end of period)
 Dec. 31: 1991 1990
 Assets $1,807,752 $890,468
 Investment securities 350,140 261,647
 Loans, net of unearned income 684,369 556,408
 Allowance for possible loan losses 8,876 6,870
 Deposits 932,890 751,201
 Long-term debt 14,221 14,759
 Shareholders' equity 62,243 56,473
 Significant Ratios
 Twelve months ended Dec. 31: 1991 1990
 Return on average assets
 (as a percent) 0.89 1.00
 Return on average equity 14.43 13.72
 Average loans as a percentage
 of average deposits 74.61 74.25
 Shareholders as a percentage
 of period-end assets 5.72 6.34
 Tier 1 Leverage ratio 5.59 6.15
 Allowance for possible loan losses
 as a percentage of net loans 1.30 1.23
 Net chargeoffs as a percentage
 of average loans 0.20 0.15
 Dividends as a percentage
 of net income 33.15 34.01
 Net interest margin 4.15 4.16
 Effective tax rate 27.05 25.79
 (A) -- All per share amounts have been restated to reflect the effect of a 5 percent stock dividend declared on July 22, 1991.
 -0- 1/17/92
 /CONTACT: Robert H. Young, senior vice president-finance, secretary and treasurer, or Linda M. Spinelli of First Western Bancorp, 412-652-8550, ext. 137/
 (FWBI) CO: First Western Bancorp, Inc. ST: Pennsylvania IN: FIN SU: DIV


TS -- NY006 -- 0852 01/17/92 08:34 EST
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