FirstMerit earnings for quarter, year are up
Jan 22, 2013 (Menafn - The Akron Beacon Journal - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Akron-based FirstMerit Corp. reported increases in both its fourth quarter and 2012 year-end results this morning.
For the fourth quarter, the bank said its earnings rose 25.2 percent to 38.2 million in net income or 35 cents per share, up from 30.5 million or 28 cents per share during the same time a year ago. For the full year, the bank said its net income rose 12.1 percent to 134.1 million or 1.22 per share, compared to 119.6 million or 1.10 per share a year ago.
It was the bank's 55th consecutive quarter of profitability, the bank said.
"Our ongoing commitment to sound banking fundamentals is reflected in our strong fourth-quarter results. While the low interest-rate environment and slow economic recovery continue to challenge the banking industry, I am pleased to report that FirstMerit again performed well and grew our business," Paul Greig, FirstMerit president, chief executive officer and chairman, said in a prepared statement.
The bank is proceeding with its intention to acquire Citizens Republic Bancorp of Michigan, with 291 offices in Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. The bank still expects the transaction to close in the second quarter, Greig said during a conference call with analysts.
If the deal goes through, the bank would be the sixth largest in the Midwest, officials have said.
FirstMerit currently employs 2,724 and has 196 banking offices and 203 ATM locations in Ohio, Western Pennsylvania and the Chicago area. Flint, Mich.-based Citizens Republic Bancorp Inc. has 219 offices in Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Average loans for FirstMerit for the quarter, not including what are called covered loans, increased 770.3 million, or 10.04 percent compared to the same time a year ago.
Average commercial loans, excluding covered loans, were up 551 million or 10.91 percent compared to a year ago.
Average deposits were 11.6 billion during the fourth quarter of 2012, an increase of 178.5 million or 1.56 percent compared to the same time a year ago.
Analyst Andrew Marquardt with Evercore Partners said in an early report that overall, FirstMerit had "lower quality results than expected with revenue coming in below while credit costs lower and expenses were about in line." Marquardt did note that Citizens, which also reported earnings this morning, appeared worse than expected.
Citizens reported its fourth quarter results at 17 million or 42 cents per share, compared to 12.3 million or 31 cents per share a year ago. For the full year, Citizens reported earnings of 347.9 million or 8.61 per share compared to a net loss of 16.3 million or 41 cents a share a year ago.
In the conference call, Greig said he was excited about the bank's newest hire of Sandy Pierce as vice chairman of FirstMerit Corp. and chairman and CEO -- FirstMerit Michigan, effective Feb. 1. Pierce, who was Midwest regional executive, president and CEO for Charter One Bank, Michigan, will be responsible for all of FirstMerit's retail banking, wealth management services, corporate marketing and coordination of FirstMerit's business activities in Michigan following the merger.
When asked whether other people would be hired in other markets where FirstMerit is growing, Greig said the company is adding talent as it becomes available in Chicago and will follow the same model in Michigan and Wisconsin.
Analysts also asked Greig if the bank would further expand in Chicago. Greig said "filling out more in Chicago would be atrractive for us, but we need to find the right candidate and haven't found that yet to date." The bank's focus now is on the proposed merger with Citizens, he said.
FirstMerit shares were up 20 cents in mid-day trading to 15.34.
Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/blinfisher and see all her stories at www.ohio.com/betty
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