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MERIDIAN'S EARNINGS TOP $100 MILLION IN 1991

 MERIDIAN'S EARNINGS TOP $100 MILLION IN 1991
 READING, Pa., Jan. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Meridian Bancorp, Inc.


(NASDAQ-NMS: MRDN) today reported net income of $100.6 million for 1991 compared to net income of $22.5 million in 1990.
 On a fully diluted per share basis, Meridian earned $2.40 in 1991 compared to $.55 a year ago.
 Income from continuing operations totalled $107.1 million in 1991, or $2.56 per fully diluted share, compared to $48.5 million from continuing operations in 1990, or $1.20 per share.
 Earnings from continuing operations exclude the results of Meridian's title insurance operations, which are accounted for as discontinued operations and are under agreement of sale. The sale is expected to be completed by mid-year 1992. In 1991, Meridian reported a loss from its discontinued title operations of $6.5 million, or $.16 per share, compared to a loss of $26.0 million, or $.65 per share, in 1990.
 "In 1991, the fundamental earnings from our core banking, mortgage, asset management and securities businesses showed significant improvement compared to 1990," said Samuel A. McCullough, Meridian's chairman and chief executive officer. "We are seeing positive results from the aggressive actions we initiated in 1990. In particular, we significantly strengthened our balance sheet and capital position. We are investing in growing lines of businesses that we believe will provide appropriate levels of return and exiting or downsizing those that we believe will not."
 Net income for the fourth quarter of 1991 was $24.2 million compared to $18.6 million in the fourth quarter of 1990, an increase of 30 percent. Fourth quarter earnings per fully diluted share were $.53 in 1991 versus $.46 in 1990. In the fourth quarter of 1991, shares outstanding were 3.45 million higher than in prior periods because of the common stock offering that closed on Sept. 30, 1991. Fourth quarter earnings from continuing operations also totalled $24.2 million in 1991, compared to $19.7 million, or $.49 per share, from continuing operations in the fourth quarter of 1990.
 1991 Highlights:
 -- Meridian's capital ratios improved significantly during the year. At Dec. 31, 1991, the shareholders' equity to assets ratio was 7.12 percent compared to 5.80 percent at Dec. 31, 1990, and Meridian's total risk-based capital ratio was 10.01 percent versus 7.95 percent a year ago.
 -- The improvement in earnings from continuing operations in 1991 compared to 1990 resulted primarily from the net effect of:
 -- A $14.2 million or 3 percent increase in net interest income on a taxable equivalent basis.
 -- A $35.3 million reduction in the provision for possible loan losses.
 -- An increase of 30 percent in recurring non-interest income.
 -- A non-recurring pre-tax gain of $40.6 million on the sale of the company's credit card portfolio.
 -- An increase of 11 percent in recurring non-interest expense.
 Net Interest Income Increases
 Net interest income on a taxable-equivalent basis was $454.7 million in 1991 compared to $440.5 in 1990, a 3 percent increase. The company benefited from the positive impact of widening spreads between the yield on interest-earning assets and the cost of interest-bearing liabilities. The strong spreads were offset, however, by lower levels of interest earning assets resulting from the sale of the company's credit card portfolio and automobile loans and by softer loan demand. The net interest yield for 1991 was 4.48 percent as compared to 4.15 percent in 1990. Net interest income on a taxable equivalent basis for the fourth quarter of 1991 was $113.1 million, compared to $111.8 million in the third quarter of 1991 and $113.0 million in the fourth quarter of 1990.
 Other Income and Other Expenses
 The increase of 30 percent in other income in the year-to-year comparison reflects increases in all major categories of fee-based income, including mortgage banking, asset management, securities and other banking fees.
 Operating expenses in 1991 include non-recurring restructuring costs of approximately $8 million relating to the study of Meridian's organizational structure, its work processes, products and services and staffing. Approximately one-half of the increase in other expenses relates to higher levels of expense in the mortgage banking and the broker, dealer and investment banking functions as a result of the expansion of these units during the past 12 months. Both units produced increases in revenues and net income between 1990 and 1991. Higher premium rates caused FDIC deposit insurance to increase significantly. Loan related expenses, including loan collection costs, were also higher than last year.
 Asset Quality
 Meridian's provision for possible loan losses for 1991 was $99.4 million, compared to $134.7 million in 1990. The fourth quarter 1991 provision for loan losses was $27.0 million, compared to $19.9 million for the third quarter of
1991 and $17.2 million for the fourth quarter of 1990. The reserve for possible loan losses totalled $165.0 million, or 2.23 percent of total loans, at Dec. 31, 1991, compared to $146.5 million, or 1.75 percent, a year ago.
 Total non-performing assets were $223.1 million at Dec. 31, 1991, or 2.98 percent of loans and assets acquired in foreclosure, compared to $195.0 million or 2.55 percent at Sept. 30, 1991, and $164.8 million or 1.97 percent at Dec. 31, 1990. The increase in non-performing assets since Sept. 30, 1991, includes the addition of one large non-real estate customer and several real estate related loans. Loans past due 90 days or more were $48.3 million at Dec. 31, 1991, $50.8 million at Sept. 30, 1991, and $52.0 million at Dec. 31, 1990. Net loans charged-off for the fourth quarter of 1991 were $25.0 million compared to $19.1 million for the third quarter of 1991 and $33.0 million for the fourth quarter of 1990. The ratio of loan loss reserves to non-performing loans at Dec. 31, 1991, was 109 percent, compared to 113 percent at Sept. 30, 1991, and 110 percent at Dec. 31, 1990.
 At Dec. 31, 1991, Meridian's construction loans totalled $392.1 million and commercial mortgage loans totalled $1,361.7 million, representing 5 percent and 18 percent of total loans, respectively. The total of construction loans and commercial mortgages at the end of the quarter is down by approximately $65.9 million from the $1,819.7 million at Dec. 31, 1990. At Dec. 31, 1991, loans in connection with highly leveraged transactions, as defined by the Federal Reserve Board, represented 2.19 percent of Meridian's total loan portfolio. The company had no foreign loan exposure.
 The balance in the reserve for possible loan losses reflects Meridian's continuing concerns about the economy in the geographic markets served by Meridian, especially in the real estate sector. If the economy does not improve, Meridian's borrowers may continue to experience difficulties and the level of Meridian's non-performing loans and assets, charge-offs and delinquencies may continue to increase. If this occurs, further reserve strengthening through increases in the provision for possible loan losses may be required.
 Capital and Period-End Balances
 Meridian's risk-based capital ratio was 10.01 percent of total risk- weighted assets at Dec. 31, 1991, well above regulatory requirements. The ratio was 7.95 percent at Dec. 31, 1990. Shareholders' equity totalled $807.0 million or 7.12 percent of total assets as compared to $687.9 million or 5.80 percent a year ago. The significant improvement in these ratios reflects the retention of earnings, the receipt of the proceeds of $63 million from the sale of common stock in Sept. 1991, and a reduction in asset levels caused primarily by the securitization and sale of auto loans and the sale of the credit card portfolio.
 Total assets at Dec. 31, 1991, were $11.3 billion compared to $11.9 billion at Dec. 31, 1990. Total loans were $7.4 billion compared to $8.4 billion a year ago. The decrease in the year-to-year comparison is primarily because of the completed sales of the credit card portfolio and automobile loans and the decline in loan demand as a result of the downturn in the economy. The proceeds from the loan sales were used to reduce short-term borrowings, thereby improving Meridian's liquidity. Total deposits at Dec. 31, 1991, were $9.5 billion compared to $9.3 billion a year ago, a 2 percent increase.
 Meridian Bancorp, Inc.
 (Dollars in thousands, except per-share data)
 For the Quarter Ended Dec. 31, 1991 Dec. 31, 1990
 Income from Continuing Operations $24,192 $19,721
 Loss from Discontinued Operations -- (1,150)
 Net Income 24,192 18,571
 Per Common Share (a)
 Income from Continuing Operations .53 .49
 Loss from Discontinued Operations -- (.03)
 Net Income .53 .46
 Return on Average Assets (b) (Pct.) .87 .67
 Return on Average Common 11.97 11.31
 Shareholders' Equity (b) (Pct.)
 For the Year Ended
 Income from Continuing Operations $107,054 $48,457
 Loss from Discontinued Operations (6,500) (25,983)
 Net Income 100,554 22,474
 Per Common Share (a)
 Income from Continuing Operations 2.56 1.20
 Loss from Discontinued Operations (.16) (.65)
 Net Income 2.40 .55
 Return on Average Assets (b) (Pct.) .96 .42
 Return on Average Common 14.63 6.76
 Shareholders' Equity (b) (Pct.)
 At Year-End
 Assets $11,336,880 $11,859,867
 Deposits 9,452,898 9,263,388
 Loans 7,403,375 8,352,819
 Shareholders' Equity 806,999 687,862
 (a) Based on average fully diluted shares outstanding of 44,530,952 and 40,588,571 for the quarters ended Dec. 31, 1991, and 1990, respectively, and 41,891,008 and 40,523,298 for the years ended Dec. 31, 1991, and 1990, respectively.
 (b) Calculation is based on continuing operations.
 /delval/
 -0- 1/16/92
 CONTACT: George E. Biechler, 215-655-2470, Cathy Souders, 215-655-2463, or W. Sturgis Corbett (financial analysts), 215-655-2438, all of Meridian Bancorp/
 (MRDN) CO: Meridian Bancorp, Inc. ST: Pennsylvania IN: FIN SU: ERN


CC -- PH027 -- 0535 01/16/92 13:00 EST
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