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CINCINNATI,– First Financial Bancorp. (Nasdaq: FFBC) (“First Financial” or the “Company”) announced financial results for the fourth quarter 2019.
For the three months ended December 31, 2019, the Company reported net income of $48.7 million, or $0.49 per diluted common share. These results compare to net income of $50.9 million, or $0.51 per diluted common share, for the third quarter of 2019 and $55.0 million, or $0.56 per diluted common share, for the fourth quarter of 2018. For the twelve months ended December 31, 2019, First Financial had earnings per diluted common share of $2.00 compared to $1.93 for the same period in 2018.
Return on average assets for the fourth quarter of 2019 was 1.34% while return on average tangible common equity was 15.84%. These compare to returns on average assets of 1.41% and 1.59%, and returns on average tangible common equity of 16.15% and 19.63%, in the third quarter of 2019 and the fourth quarter of 2018, respectively.
Fourth quarter 2019 highlights include:
Financial information in this release that is described as “adjusted” or that is presented on a fully tax equivalent basis is non-GAAP. For details on the calculation of these non-GAAP financial measures and a reconciliation to the GAAP financial measure, see the sections titled “Use of Non-GAAP Financial Measures” in this release and “Appendix: Non-GAAP to GAAP Reconciliation” in the accompanying slide presentation.
Archie Brown, President and Chief Executive Officer, commented, “We are very pleased to announce fourth quarter results that are highlighted by strong earnings, record loan originations, improved loan growth and a significant reduction in classified assets.”
Mr. Brown continued, “A 31% increase in loan originations from the linked quarter resulted in 6.0% annualized loan growth. This was our strongest quarter to date in loan volume with originations increasing across most of our portfolios, led by Commercial Real Estate and Commercial loans. Net interest margin was once again at the high end of our expectations as our proactive funding cost management partially offset lower asset yields following the third rate cut in four months in October. Credit quality trends significantly improved as net charge-offs normalized during the period and we resolved a number of problem loans, resulting in significantly lower classified asset balances.”
Mr. Brown further remarked, “The full quarter impact of the Bannockburn acquisition along with near record level client derivative fees and sustained mortgage banking volume drove noninterest income higher. Expenses were elevated during the period primarily due to the write-down of a historic tax credit investment and higher incentive compensation resulting from our strong operating results, however our adjusted efficiency ratio was in line with our stated expectations and reflects our deliberate expense management efforts.”
Mr. Brown concluded, “2019 was another successful year for First Financial. The year was highlighted by record earnings, top quartile returns, shareholder-focused capital actions and the Bannockburn acquisition despite headwinds from the Fed rate cuts and increased credit costs related to one loan in our Franchise portfolio. Our success is a direct reflection of the work performed by our associates. Their resolve and dedication to delivering unparalleled service to our clients and return to our shareholders embodies our organizational values and they have worked tirelessly to establish themselves and First Financial as valued partners in our communities. Due to their continued efforts and commitment I remain confident in our ability to sustain this success into 2020 and beyond.”
Full detail of the Company’s fourth quarter and full year performance is provided in the accompanying financial statements and slide presentation.
Teleconference / Webcast Information
First Financial’s executive management will host a conference call to discuss the Company’s financial and operating results on Friday, January 24, 2020 at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. Members of the public who would like to listen to the conference call should dial (877) 506-6873 (U.S. toll free), (855) 669-9657 (Canada toll free) or +1 (412) 380-2003 (International) (no passcode required). The number should be dialed five to ten minutes prior to the start of the conference call. The conference call will also be accessible as an audio webcast via the Investor Relations section of the Company’s website at www.bankatfirst.com. A replay of the conference call will be available beginning one hour after the completion of the live call at (877) 344-7529 (U.S. toll free), (855) 669-9658 (Canada toll free) and +1 (412) 317-0088 (International); conference number 10137978. The webcast will be archived on the Investor Relations section of the Company’s website for 12 months.
Press Release and Additional Information on Website
This press release as well as supplemental information are available to the public through the Investor Relations section of First Financial’s website at www.bankatfirst.com.
Use of Non-GAAP Financial Measures
This earnings release contains GAAP financial measures and Non-GAAP financial measures where management believes it to be helpful in understanding the Company’s results of operations or financial position. Where Non-GAAP financial measures are used, the comparable GAAP financial measures, as well as a reconciliation to the comparable GAAP financial measure, can be found in the section titled “Appendix: Non-GAAP to GAAP Reconciliation” in the accompanying slide presentation.
Certain statements contained in this report which are not statements of historical fact constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as ”believes,” ”anticipates,” “likely,” “expected,” “estimated,” ”intends” and other similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements but are not the exclusive means of identifying such statements. Examples of forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements we make about (i) our future operating or financial performance, including revenues, income or loss and earnings or loss per share, (ii) future common stock dividends, (iii) our capital structure, including future capital levels, (iv) our plans, objectives and strategies, and (v) the assumptions that underlie our forward-looking statements.
As with any forecast or projection, forward-looking statements are subject to inherent uncertainties, risks and changes in circumstances that may cause actual results to differ materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are not historical facts but instead express only management’s beliefs regarding future results or events, many of which, by their nature, are inherently uncertain and outside of management’s control. It is possible that actual results and outcomes may differ, possibly materially, from the anticipated results or outcomes indicated in these forward-looking statements. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in our forward-looking statements include the following, without limitation: (i) economic, market, liquidity, credit, interest rate, operational and technological risks associated with the Company’s business; (ii) the effect of and changes in policies and laws or regulatory agencies, including the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and other legislation and regulation relating to the banking industry; (iii) management’s ability to effectively execute its business plans; (iv) mergers and acquisitions, including costs or difficulties related to the integration of acquired companies; (v) the possibility that any of the anticipated benefits of the Company’s merger with MainSource Financial Group, Inc. will not be realized or will not be realized within the expected time period; (vi) the effect of changes in accounting policies and practices; (vii) changes in consumer spending, borrowing and saving and changes in unemployment; (viii) changes in customers’ performance and creditworthiness; and (ix) the costs and effects of litigation and of unexpected or adverse outcomes in such litigation. Additional factors that may cause our actual results to differ materially from those described in our forward-looking statements can be found in our Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2018, as well as our other filings with the SEC, which are available on the SEC website at www.sec.gov.
All forward-looking statements included in this filing are made as of the date hereof and are based on information available at the time of the filing. Except as required by law, the Company does not assume any obligation to update any forward-looking statement.
About First Financial Bancorp.
First Financial Bancorp. is a Cincinnati, Ohio based bank holding company. As of December 31, 2019, the Company had $14.5 billion in assets, $9.2 billion in loans, $10.2 billion in deposits and $2.2 billion in shareholders’ equity. The Company’s subsidiary, First Financial Bank, founded in 1863, provides banking and financial services products through its six lines of business: Commercial, Retail Banking, Investment Commercial Real Estate, Mortgage Banking, Commercial Finance and Wealth Management. These business units provide traditional banking services to business and retail clients. Wealth Management provides wealth planning, portfolio management, trust and estate, brokerage and retirement plan services and had approximately $2.9 billion in assets under management as of December 31, 2019. The Company operated 145 full service banking centers as of December 31, 2019, primarily in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, while the Commercial Finance business lends into targeted industry verticals on a nationwide basis. Additional information about the Company, including its products, services and banking locations, is available at www.bankatfirst.com.