Berkshire Bank parent reports EPS growth, dividend increase and listing on New York Stock Exchange
Berkshire Hills Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ: BHLB) reported $0.52 in third quarter core earnings per share, a 21% increase over third quarter 2011 core earnings of $0.43 per share. For the first nine months of the year, Berkshire reported $1.43 in core earnings per share in 2012, which was a 30% increase over 2011 nine month core results of $1.10 per share. This growth resulted from positive operating leverage related to ongoing business expansion.
Earnings in both years were also affected by net non-core charges for mergers and systems conversions. Including non-core charges, third quarter GAAP earnings per share totaled $0.46 in 2012, compared to $0.22 in 2011. For the first nine months of the year, GAAP earnings per share totaled $1.11 in 2012, compared to $0.54 in 2011.
THIRD QUARTER FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS
- 21% increase in core earnings per share, compared to third quarter of 2011
- 11% increase in core earnings per share, compared to the prior quarter
- 5% revenue growth, compared to the prior quarter
- 6% annualized loan growth
- 19% annualized growth in demand deposit balances
- 10% annualized growth in non-maturity deposits
- 0.59% non-performing assets/total assets
- 0.27% annualized net loan charge-offs/average loans
- 1.00% core ROA (0.88% GAAP ROA)
- 57% efficiency ratio
Berkshire CEO Michael P. Daly stated, "Our third quarter results represent the tenth consecutive quarter of increased operating earnings, and we are ahead of plan to achieve the earnings and core profitability growth that we targeted for the year. Across our markets, our teams are generating solid business - resulting in market share gains that demonstrate the value of our brand promise, service execution, and product capabilities. The positive operating leverage that we are generating resulted in a third quarter core return on assets of 100 basis points. We are currently generating tangible equity from core operations at an annualized rate of $2.31 per share, resulting in a 15% annualized return on tangible equity. Our growing fee income is diversifying revenues and strengthening efficiency and earnings. With our multiple earnings levers, we offset the impact of a managed reduction of 5 basis points in our core net interest margin, allowing us to maintain targeted organic growth momentum, competitive positioning, and future pricing flexibility. Other margin impacts from accounting factors continue to vary on a quarterly basis, but the bottom line earnings trend continues to be solidly upward."
"We are achieving these strong operating results while continuing to build our franchise for the future," Mr. Daly continued. "Last Friday we completed our acquisition of Beacon Federal Bancorp, which added nearly $1 billion in assets and solidifies our presence in Central New York, where we now have ten offices serving the Syracuse/Rome/Utica markets. We continue to move forward in building revenues from our CBT and Greenpark Mortgage acquisitions earlier in the year. In the third quarter, we announced the appointment of Sheryl McQuade as Senior Vice President and Regional Commercial leader for our growingHartford/Springfield region. During the quarter, we also completed the conversion of our core banking systems on schedule. This is a major investment in our technology platform that is expected to contribute to future revenue and earnings growth."
Mr. Daly concluded, "Based on our consistent earnings growth, we are pleased to be announcing a one cent increase in the quarterly dividend to $0.18 per share. This represents a 6% increase and follows by one year our last quarterly dividend increase. We are very focused on shareholder value and shareholder return, and our goal is to deliver the benefits of our earnings driven capital accretion as we continue to expand and improve the quality of our franchise. Recognizing our growth and our outlook, we have separately announced today that during November we plan to transfer our stock listing to the New York Stock Exchange, where we will join a number of the nation's most successful financial institutions."
The Board of Directors voted to declare a cash dividend of $0.18 per share to shareholders of record at the close of business on November 8, 2012, payable on November 21, 2012. This dividend provides a 3.2% yield based on the $22.40 average closing price of Berkshire's common stock during the third quarter. This dividend represents a 35% payout compared to the$0.52 in core earnings per share recorded during the quarter.
NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE LISTING
In a separate news release today, Berkshire has announced that it will transfer the listing of its common stock to the New York Stock Exchange in November. The stock symbol will remain "BHLB".
Total assets increased by $127 million (11% annualized) in the most recent quarter. Annualized loan growth was 6% and annualized deposit growth was 5%, reflecting ongoing business development in Berkshire's markets. Loans held for sale also increased due to higher mortgage banking volume, and subordinated debt increased as the Company raised funds near the end of the quarter for the acquisition of Beacon, which was completed on October 19. For the year-to-date, balance sheet growth included the impact of the acquisitions of CBT – The Connecticut Bank and Trust Company and the operations of Greenpark Mortgage, which were completed in the second quarter. Overall measures of asset quality, capital, and liquidity remained strong through the first nine months of the year.
Loan growth totaling $53 million resulted primarily from a $49 million increase in commercial business loans. Commercial business loans have increased by 39% since the start of the year. Berkshire continues to build business loan volume inCentral Massachusetts and New York as it targets banking relationships with middle market customers who need a full range of products and services provided by a responsive local banking partner. During the quarter, growth in residential real estate loans partially offset runoff in commercial real estate balances. For the year-to-date, excluding acquired CBT loan balances, total loans increased by $254 million at an 11% annualized rate as Berkshire continues to employ its capital to support the credit needs of its markets and generate shareholder returns. Residential mortgage originations totaled $392 million for the quarter and $696 million for the year-to-date. Including its expanded eastern Massachusetts operations, Berkshire is an increasingly important supplier of consumer credit supporting the region's housing market and helping individuals take advantage of the record low mortgage rates.
Third quarter asset quality metrics remained favorable. At quarter-end, non-performing assets were 0.59% of total assets, compared to 0.60% at the start of the quarter. Annualized net loan charge-offs measured 0.27% of average loans for the third quarter and 0.25% for the year-to-date. Accruing delinquent loans were 1.00% of total loans at quarter-end, which was down from 1.01% a year ago. The ratio of the allowance to total loans was 0.98% and 0.97% at the start and end of the quarter.
Third quarter deposit growth totaled $40 million (5% annualized) and funded most of the $53 million increase in loan balances. Demand deposit balances increased at a 19% annualized rate primarily due to ongoing promotion of relationship oriented personal accounts. The Company continued to manage a decrease in time deposits as higher cost certificates rolled off. For the year-to-date, excluding acquired CBT deposit balances, total deposits increased by $137 million at a 6% annualized rate.
Total shareholders' equity increased at a 5% annualized rate in the third quarter to $591 million due to the benefit of retained earnings. Tangible book value per share increased at a 10% annualized rate to $15.86 during the quarter, while total book value per share increased at a 4% annualized rate to $26.60. The ratio of tangible equity/assets remained at 8.0%, while the ratio of total equity to assets decreased slightly to 12.8% from 12.9%.
RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
Berkshire posted strong core growth in revenue, earnings, and earnings per share for the third quarter and year-to-date. Most core profitability measures also improved as a result of the positive operating leverage produced by the revenue growth, with core return on equity improving to 7.8% and with the efficiency ratio improving to 57% in the most recent quarter. Berkshire is achieving these results while bearing the costs of maintaining its asset sensitive interest rate risk profile and absorbing the charges related to its branch and team expansion, and its investment in technology and other infrastructure.
Of note, the third quarter was the first complete quarter with the combined operations of CBT and Greenpark Mortgage, which were acquired during the second quarter. Many categories of income and expense increased due to these acquisitions, and year-to-year increases include the impact of the Rome and Legacy acquisitions in 2011. As a result, the discussion of operations primarily compares the third quarter of 2012 to the second quarter of 2012.
Net income in most periods also reflected non-core charges which were primarily merger related, together with systems conversion costs. The reconciliation of net income and core income is shown on table F-9 of the financial tables. Non-core charges in the most recent quarter were primarily related to nonrecurring costs of the core systems conversion, which was completed during the quarter. The Company does not view these non-core items as related to its underlying ongoing operating activities. Including net non-core charges, the third quarter return on equity was 6.9%.
Berkshire's total net revenue increased by $2.2 million (5%) in the third quarter compared to the prior quarter. Mortgage production net revenue increased by $1.5 million to $4.3 million due to the full quarter of Greenpark operations, along with higher mortgage refinancings in the current low interest rate environment. Non-interest income increased to 29% of total revenue.
Net interest income increased by $0.2 million (2% annualized) to $35.2 million in the third quarter compared to the prior quarter. Average earning assets increased by 5% due to business development together with the benefit of a full quarter of CBT and Greenpark operations. The Company estimates that the third quarter core net interest margin was compressed by 5 basis points due to the impact of lower interest rates. The margin also decreased due to a 6 basis point credit received in the second quarter from one commercial loan prepayment. Additionally, the Company recorded a 9 basis point decrease in the margin due to the writedown of deferred costs in conjunction with accelerated mortgage refinancings. The income impact of these charges was more than offset by the higher mortgage production income also resulting from refinancing demand, which contributed to the higher EPS for the quarter.
The quarterly margin has varied based on the impact of loan prepayments on deferred balances and purchase accounting entries. Berkshire continues to target a core net interest margin above 3.50% before these impacts. The Company also plans to maintain its asset sensitive interest rate risk profile in order to enhance its long-term earnings. The Company has reduced its cost of funds by 12 basis points since the start of the year, with the potential for additional future targeted reductions as appropriate based on the operating environment.
The third quarter provision for loan losses increased to $2.5 million from $2.3 million in the prior quarter. Net loan charge-offs totaled $2.3 million and $2.0 million in these periods, respectively. There were no significant changes in the Bank's favorable charge-off metrics or in the metrics related to the loan loss allowance, which increased by $0.2 million to $33.1 million during the quarter.
Third quarter core non-interest expense decreased by 1% to $29.9 million. Third quarter GAAP non-interest expense totaled$32.2 million, including $2.2 million in non-core charges primarily related to the core systems conversion. Year-to-date non-core expense totaled $10.5 million, which was in line with the Company's guidance at the start of the year excluding theBeacon acquisition, which was announced in May and completed in the fourth quarter. The third quarter effective income tax rate increased in line with expectations to about 33% due to the higher level of pretax income in relation to the Company's tax advantaged investments.
PITTSFIELD, Mass., Oct. 23, 2012 /PRNewswire/