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SIGNET BANKING CORPORATION REPORTS LOSS DUE TO ACCELERATED REAL ESTATE ASSET DISPOSITION

 SIGNET BANKING CORPORATION REPORTS LOSS
 DUE TO ACCELERATED REAL ESTATE ASSET DISPOSITION
 RICHMOND, Va., Jan. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Reflecting a special provision for loss on real estate assets announced in December, 1991, Signet Banking Corporation (NYSE: SBK) today reported net losses of $51.7 million, or $1.91 per share, for the 1991 fourth quarter and $25.7 million, or $.95 per share, for the year. In 1990, the Corporation earned $6.8 million, or $.26 per share, for the fourth quarter and $41.4 million, or $1.56 per share, for the year.
 Signet previously announced that it would make a special provision for losses on loans and foreclosed properties of approximately $165 million to accelerate the disposition of real estate assets. The losses reported today were within the ranges projected in the earlier announcement. Signet's earnings for the past two years have been negatively affected by the national recession and sluggish regional economy and, in particular, weak conditions in the commercial real estate market.
 "We expect Signet's 1992 earnings to be significantly improved as a result of this accelerated real estate disposition strategy," said Robert M. Freeman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "Our strong capital base enabled us to take this aggressive action and still end the year with solid capital ratios," he said. Signet's equity to assets ratio at December 31 was 6.33 percent. As indicated earlier, the Corporation intends to maintain its quarterly dividend at $.20 per share.
 "We continue to believe that we are at or very near the peak in our non-performing real estate assets and this action will enable us to move more quickly to get these problems behind us," Freeman observed. He indicated that this special provision and strategy does not reflect a change in outlook for, or valuation of, real estate assets, but instead a change in the expected time frame for working out and disposing of these assets. "Our objective, during 1992, is to reduce our real estate assets by at least $400 million, or 25 percent," said Freeman. He indicated that the special provision would enhance Signet's ability to meet this objective by enabling it to take heavier discounts on properties sold and absorb greater losses without adversely affecting future earnings.
 Non-performing assets, which totaled $332.4 million at December 31, 1991, or 5.53 percent of loans and foreclosed properties, declined $16.5 million from the end of the 1991 third quarter. Net charge-offs increased $14.6 million for 1991, up from last year's level of $108.7 million. The allowance for loan losses amounted to $329.4 million, or 5.60 percent of loans, compared with $163.7 million, or 2.54 percent, a year ago and $186.0 million, or 3.16 percent, at September 30, 1991. The allowance for losses represented 157 percent of non-performing loans and 99 percent of total non-performing assets.
 Net interest income for the fourth quarter of 1991 was down slightly over the same period of 1990 and down $46.0 million, or 10 percent, for the entire year, reflecting weak loan demand and securitizations of credit card receivables. The net yield margin increased to 4.07 percent in the fourth quarter, from 3.92 percent a year earlier and 3.95 percent in the third quarter of 1991. Non-interest operating income continued to exhibit solid growth year-over-year, while securities gains totaled $57.7 million and $93.2 million for the quarter and year, respectively, both significant increases over last year. Excluding foreclosed property expense, non-interest expense grew 5 percent over the previous year.
 Total assets at December 31, 1991 amounted to $11.2 billion, down slightly from a year ago, and loans (net of unearned income) of $5.9 billion decreased 9 percent from 1990. Core deposits totaled $8.0 billion at year-end 1991, an increase of $603 million, or 8 percent, over 1990.
 Signet Banking Corporation is an $11.2 billion organization with 241 full-service banking offices throughout Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. It offers investment services including municipal bond, government, federal agency and money market sales and trading, foreign exchange trading and discount brokerage, an international operation concentrating on trade finance, and specialized services for trust, leasing, asset based lending, cash management, real estate, insurance, consumer financing and investment banking.
 -0- 1/21/92
 /CONTACT: S. Joseph Ward, Signet Banking Corporation, 804-771-7210/
 (SBK) CO: Signet Banking Corporation ST: Virginia IN: FIN SU: ERN


DF -- CH016 -- 2014 01/21/92 16:00 EST
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Date:Jan 21, 1992
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