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 READING, Pa., April 26 /PRNewswire/ -- The Chairman and CEO of Meridian Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ: MRDN) cited strong overall results for 1993 and for the first quarter of 1994, along with the signing of definitive agreements for the sale of a significant portion of mortgage assets held for sale, as evidence that the financial services company is headed in the right direction.
 Before the meeting, Meridian's Board of Directors declared a 6.2 percent increase in the company's regular quarterly cash dividend from 32 cents per share to 34 cents per share on Meridian's common stock. The dividend is payable on June 1, 1994, to shareholders of record on May 15, 1994.
 Through its predecessor companies -- American Bank and Berks County Trust Company -- Meridian has paid dividends to shareholders in 62 consecutive years. In addition Meridian, through these predecessor companies, has increased its common dividend in 30 of the last 32 years.
 "Meridian is a healthy, strong company that we are continually trying to improve," Samuel A. McCullough told shareholders attending today's annual meeting in Reading. "We have about 7,000 distinctively different, highly motivated individuals working at Meridian, and we encourage individuality and diversity," McCullough said. "But, we all have one obsessive trait in common: We want to make it simple for customers to do all of their business with Meridian.
 "`Simplicity' isn't easy to pull off at a time when financial services options are mind-boggling for customers," McCullough admitted, "but we're committed to bringing the best of Meridian's resources to our customers through seamless delivery. Running an organization like Meridian today involves blending together many different systems and policies, but we try to make all of those things invisible to our customers."
 Although the corporation's roots go back, through predecessor companies, to the 1820s, in 1993 Meridian celebrated the tenth anniversary of its "Meridian" identity with record earnings. Net income totaled $157.8 million, equivalent to $2.74 per share. These totals increased 15 percent and 12 percent, respectively, when compared with 1992 results.
 For the first quarter of 1994, Meridian reported operating income of $40.5 million, or $.70 per share, after the one-time impact of changes in accounting methods affecting the first quarters of both 1993 and 1994.
 Meridian achieved record earnings in 1993 despite a loss of $33.7 million, or $.58 per share, in its mortgage banking business. As mortgage rates in 1993 tumbled to a 30-year low, customers paid off loans that Meridian expected to keep in its servicing portfolio for many years. As a result, servicing revenues declined. In October, 1993, Meridian announced a plan to de-emphasize the servicing side of the mortgage business and to sell substantial portions of its servicing portfolio, while concentrating on the loan origination side of the business.
 Last week, Meridian announced the sale of about 90 percent of its mortgage servicing portfolio. That sale is expected to close during the current quarter, with the servicing transferred to the buyers in the third quarter of this year. Meridian continues to negotiate the sale of the remaining servicing portfolio identified for sale.
 During the annual meeting today, McCullough reviewed Meridian's low- risk expansion strategy. "We will accept no dilution to our earnings per share from out-of-market acquisitions," McCullough stressed, "and any dilution incurred in an in-market acquisition must be earned out in 18 months or less."
 In December, 1993, Meridian announced the acquisition of McGlinn Capital Management, Inc. of Wyomissing. This acquisition, expected to be completed during the current quarter, will improve Meridian's asset management capabilities and is an example of another Meridian strategy, building fee income.
 Pursuing its expansion strategy during 1993, Meridian added 74 branch banking offices and $2.5 billion in assets through the completion of the following bank transactions: Commonwealth Bancshares of Williamsport, Pa., Cherry Hill National Bank in New Jersey, The First National Bank of Bath in Pennsylvania and four branches of Provident Savings Bank in New Jersey.
 During the annual meeting, shareholders voted to elect eight Meridian directors to three-year terms, ratified KPMG Peat Marwick as Meridian's independent accountants, increased the number of authorized shares of Meridian's common stock from 100 million to 200 million shares and voted down a shareholder proposal to provide for cumulative voting in future elections of directors.
 Re-elected to three-year terms on the Meridian Board were: Julius W. Erving, President of The Erving Group and Dr. J Enterprises; Fred D. Hafer, President, Chief Operating Officer and Director of Metropolitan Edison Company; Joseph H. Jones, partner in the law firm of Williamson, Friedberg & Jones; Ezekiel S. Ketchum, President and Chief Operating Officer of Meridian Bancorp; Daniel H. Polett, Chairman of Wilkie Chevrolet Buick Subaru; Wilmer R. Schultz, President of the general contracting firm of Wilmer R. Schultz, Inc.; and Robert B. Seidel, retired Chairman of American Manufacturing Corporation.
 Elected to his first full three-year term was Thomas F. Burke, Jr., an attorney who joined the Meridian Board as a result of Meridian's acquisition of Commonwealth Bancshares during 1993.
 -0- 4/26/94
 /CONTACT: George E. Biechler, 610-655-2470, or W. Sturgis Corbett, 610-655-2437 (investor/analyst), both of Meridian Bancorp/

CO: Meridian Bancorp, Inc. ST: Pennsylvania IN: FIN SU: ERP DIV

MK -- PH052 -- 0608 04/26/94 17:35 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 26, 1994

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