First Bancorp Reports Fourth Quarter and Annual Earnings
First Bancorp, the parent company of First Bank, announced fourth quarter net income today of $5.76 million, a 12 percent increase over the $5,144 million recorded in the fourth quarter of 2006.
Diluted earnings per share for the fourth quarter of 2007 amounted to $40 cents, an 11.1 percent increase over the 36 cents reported for the fourth quarter of 2006.
Net income for the year ended Dec. 31, 2007, amounted to $21,810,000, or $1.51 per diluted share, compared to net income of $19,302,000, or $1.34 per diluted share, reported for 2006.
Key performance ratios for the three months ended Dec. 31 include:
Annualized return on average assets of 1.04 percent
Annualized return on average equity of 13.01 percent
Annualized net charge-offs to average loans of 0.17 percent
Nonperforming assets to total assets at quarter end of 0.47 percent
The company reported that it experienced strong balance sheet growth in 2007. Total assets as of Dec. 31, 2007, amounted to $2.32 billion, 8.5 percent higher than a year earlier. Total loans as of Dec. 31 amounted to $1.89 billion, an increase of $154 million, or 8.8 percent, from a year earlier.
Total deposits amounted to $1.84 billion as of Dec. 31, an increase of $143 million, or 8.4 percent, from a year earlier. All of the loan and deposit growth in 2007 was internally-generated, since there were no acquisitions that were completed during the year, the company reported. Total shareholders' equity amounted to $174.1 million as of Dec. 31, 2007, a 7 percent increase from a year earlier.
The growth in loans and deposits was the primary reason for increases in the company's net interest income when comparing the three- and 12-month periods in 2007 to the comparable periods of 2006. Net interest income for the fourth quarter of 2007 amounted to $20.6 million, a 7.1 percent increase over the $19.2 million recorded in the fourth quarter of 2006.
Net interest income for the twelve months ended Dec. 31 amounted to $79.3 million, a 6.4 percent increase over the $74.5 million recorded in the same twelve month period in 2006.
For the first three quarters of 2007, the company was negatively impacted during that period by customers shifting their funds from low-cost deposits to higher-cost deposits as rates rose. In the fourth quarter of 2007, the company's net interest margin was negatively impacted by the Federal Reserve lowering interest rates by a total of 100 basis points during the last four months of the year.
"I am pleased to report the company's solid performance in 2007," said Jerry L. Ocheltree, president and CEO of First Bancorp. "We achieved good loan and deposit growth during the year, while also increasing our earnings over each of the last three successive quarters in 2007. Although we are not immune to market conditions, I believe that the combination of having experienced regional executives along with our conservative lending and investing culture will help to insulate us from the types and extents of losses occurring in the industry.
"In 2007, we continued our growth plans by opening two new branches and also reaching an agreement to acquire a South Carolina-based bank. We opened new branches in Ocean Isle Beach and Asheboro, both of which are in North Carolina. The Ocean Isle Beach branch represents our fifth branch along the coast, while our Asheboro branch operates under the trade name 'Primer Banco' and provides bilingual services to the Hispanic population.
"In July 2007, we announced an agreement to acquire Great Pee Dee Bancorp Inc. based in Cheraw, South Carolina. Sentry Bank and Trust, the operating subsidiary of Great Pee Dee Bancorp, has $220 million in assets, with branch locations in Cheraw and Florence, S.C. I look forward to welcoming John Long, president of Great Pee Dee Bancorp, along with his fine team of community bankers and all of their valued customers to our company."
Other corporate developments included:
The company has applied for regulatory approval to open a branch in Fort Chiswell, Va., which is expected to start up in the first quarter of 2008.
The company recently added to its mortgage loan products the ability to offer FHA and VA loans to customers.
On Nov. 28, the company announced a quarterly dividend of 19 cents per share that was paid Jan. 25, 2008, to shareholders of record on December 31, 2007.
First Bancorp is a bank holding company based in Troy. Its principal activity is the ownership and operation of First Bank, a state-chartered community bank that operates 70 branch offices.
More information is available on the company's Web site at www.firstbancorp.com.
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