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 WICHITA, Kan., July 15 /PRNewswire/-- Fourth Financial Corp. (NASDAQ: FRTH) today announced that increased net interest income and noninterest revenues combined with improved asset quality and effective cost management contributed to the company posting very strong quarterly earnings for the period ended June 30, 1992.
 Earnings per common share increased 59.4 percent from one year ago to $.51 and net income applicable to common stock increased 58.1 percent to $9,612,000. Net income for the current quarter amounted to $11,362,000 as compared to $6,081,000 for the prior-year quarter. On a per share basis, current-period earnings were second only to the record $.52 earned in the fourth quarter of 1989.
 Net income applicable to common stock for the six months ended June 30, 1992, was $17,626,000 as compared to $11,596,000 for the same period the prior year. Earnings per common share for the first six months of 1992 amounted to $.94 versus $.62 for the first half of 1991, a 51.6 percent increase. Net income increased 73.1 percent to $20,077,000 for the current year-to-date period.
 Return on average assets and return on common equity were 1.11 percent and 12.91 percent, respectively, for the current quarter compared to .58 percent and 8.43 percent for the three months ended June 30, 1991. Return on average assets and return on common equity were .98 percent and 11.92 percent, respectively, for the six months ended June 30, 1992, compared to .55 percent and 8.11 percent for the first half of 1991.
 "One year ago, we set a course for the future. The second-quarter results reflect the effective implementation of our strategies to build asset quality and improve profits," said Fourth Financial Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Darrell G. Knudson. "By strengthening our underwriting standards and through early identification and resolution of problem loans, we've been able to reduce our provision for credit losses by 40.8 percent, from $6,615,000 one year ago to $3,917,000 for the current quarter. Noninterest income has improved by 9.5 percent over the same period to $14,554,000, primarily due to growth in our trust fees, service charges on deposits, discount brokerage and annuity fees. Our net interest income also increased by 5.4 percent to $40,343,000. At the same time, we've managed to lower our noninterest expense by $874,000 to $36,244,000, net of additional expense associated with increased FDIC insurance premiums, merit salary increases for employees, and various inflation-related expense changes."
 In the third quarter of 1991, Fourth Financial announced a plan to effect a $15 million improvement in profits to be realized through increased revenue and a reduction in expenses. Earnings have increased with the implementation of each of the improvement strategies. Future periods will reflect additional expense savings resulting from the recently completed consolidation of the operations functions associated with the merger of the company's 13 former subsidiary banks into a single organization. The combined revenue and expense improvements realized to date have improved the company's efficiency ratio to 62.66 percent for the current quarter from 65.62 percent for the prior-year quarter.
 Profit Improvement
 The sharply higher earnings for the first half of 1992 were attributable to the same factors that improved second quarter earnings. Net interest income for the six months ended June 20, 1992, was $78,525,000, a 5.2 percent increase over the same period in 1991. This improvement reflects an increased net yield to 4.52 percent from 4.26 percent, despite a $213,561,000 or 10.3 percent decline in average loans outstanding. The net yield improvement reflects the company's disciplined management of its cost of funds, and the lower loan total reflects the impact of an uncertain economy on loan demand. Approximately 25 percent of the loan decrease was due to the 1991 closure of five consumer loan production offices located in adjacent states.
 The provision for credit losses for the first half of 1992 amounted to $8,917,000, a decrease of 32.7 percent from $13,250,000 for the first six months of 1991. Non-interest income was $28,815,000 for the six months ended June 30, 1992, an 11.6 percent increase over the same period in 1991. Non-interest expense totalled $72,252,000 for the first half of 1992, almost unchanged from the same period a year earlier.
 Credit Quality Improvement
 Nonperforming assets declined to $31,288,000 at June 30, 1992, compared to $46,615,000 one year ago. Similarly, nonperforming loans decreased to $21,382,000 for the current quarter from $27,904,000 for the prior-year quarter. The company is continuing its prudent approach to building the allowance for credit losses which now stands at $41,204,000 compared to $34,892,000 last year. Net charge-offs were .67 percent of loans for the current year as compared to 1.16 percent for the first six months of the prior year. The allowance for credit losses as a percentage of nonperforming loans increased to 192.70 percent from 125.04 percent last year. The company's improving credit quality reflects its strengthened underwriting standards and its focus on identifying problem loans early in the loan cycle and resolving credit quality issues earlier.
 Comparative Balance Sheet
 Total assets at June 30, 1992, were $4,180,433,000 compared to $4,265,144,000 at June 30, 1991. Year-to-date assets for 1992 averaged $4,093,368,000 as compared to $4,228,649,000 for the prior year. Total loans averaged $1,853,274,000 and $2,066,835,000 for the six months ended June 30, 1992 and 1991, respectively. The decline in loans reflects the impact of an uncertain economy on loan demand and the closure of the company's consumer loan production offices.
 Average deposits decreased 5.1 percent between the comparative year- to-date periods, reflecting the impact of current low interest rates, which make alternative investment products, such as mutual funds and annuities, more attractive to some customers. "We have responded to this trend by offering alternatives to our customers such as discount brokerage products and annuities. While demonstrating our commitment to providing products which meet customers' needs in a changing marketplace, the additional fee income associated with these non- traditional products is offsetting lost earnings from the deposits," stated Knudson.
 Stockholders' equity for the current quarter averaged $399,526,000 or 9.71 percent of average assets, reflecting the $100,000,000 of cumulative convertible preferred stock issued in the form of depositary shares during the first quarter of 1992. The proceeds of the preferred stock will be used primarily for acquisitions.
 During the first six months of 1992, Fourth Financial announced four bank acquisitions which, when completed in the third and fourth quarters, will increase the company's assets by approximately $330 million. "We are continuing to pursue growth opportunities through selective acquisitions both in and out of Kansas," stated Knudson. Interstate banking, which was effective July 1, 1992, made it possible for Kansas banks to do business in contiguous states and Arkansas. "We are targeting acquisition opportunities which will enable us to be a significant player in each market we serve. Shareholder value will be enhanced as we provide additional services through acquired entities and realize lending, operating, and marketing efficiencies," added Knudson.
 Fourth Financial Corp. is Kansas' leading financial services company. It operated 67 offices in 28 communities through its subsidiary, BANK IV Kansas, N.A., which provides a full line of traditional and nontraditional banking services in the communities it serves. Fourth Financial Corp.'s common stock and depositary shares are traded on the NASDAQ National Market system under the symbols of "FRTH" and "FRTHZ," respectively.
 -0- 7/15/92
 /CONTACT: Michael J. Shonka, senior vice president and chief financial officer of Fourth Financial Corp., 316-261-4510; or Jack Queeney or Michael Arneth of Financial Relations Board, 312-266-7800; or Regina Ryan of Financial Relations Board, 212-661-8030, for Fourth Financial Corp./
 (FRTH) CO: Fourth Financial Corp. ST: Kansas IN: FIN SU: ERN

PS -- NY090 -- 9680 07/15/92 15:46 EDT
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Date:Jul 15, 1992

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