Communities First Financial Corporation Achieves Record Profits: Earnings Increase 50% to $1.1 Million for 3Q17 from 3Q16

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FRESNO, Calif., Oct. 12, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- (OTCQX:CFST), the parent company of Fresno First Bank (the “Bank”), today announced record profits for the third quarter and first nine months of 2017.  Net income was $1.1 million, or $0.36 per diluted share, an increase of 50% over net income of $705,000, or $0.26 per diluted share, for the third quarter of 2016, and grew 15% from $915,000, or $0.32 per diluted share, for the second quarter of 2017.  For the nine months ended September 30, 2017, net income increased 31% to $2.8 million, or $0.97 per diluted share, compared to $2.1 million, or $0.78 per diluted share, for the first nine months of 2016.

“We delivered record earnings for the third quarter and year-to-date, fueled by solid revenue growth.  Net interest income increased 28% for the quarter, after the provision for loan losses, compared to the third quarter a year ago, boosted by a solid net interest margin, meaningful deposit inflow and steady year-over-year loan growth,” said Steve Miller, President and Chief Executive Officer.  “As we continue to focus on expanding our client base and increasing business deposits, noninterest-bearing deposits increased 25% from a year ago and represent for 54% of our total deposits.  We aim to be a “top 1%” community bank in regards to financial performance and further strengthening our deposit franchise is a core foundation of that vision.”

“Nonperforming assets remain unchanged from the second quarter.  The few loans on nonaccrual status are isolated to one borrower,” added Miller.  “We are confident we will make full recovery and continue to work diligently with the borrower to bring the accounts current.”  Asset quality remains excellent with NPAs to total assets at 0.78% and reserves to total loans at 1.37%, at September 30, 2017.  The allowance for loan losses was $3.3 million at quarter end.

“Our first customer was recently approved by the SEC for an equity crowd funding raise and we are excited to be a part of this new innovative capital raising platform.  In addition, we were once again the top community bank SBA lender in our district for the 5 consecutive year,” said Miller.  “Whether through traditional programs like SBA or by participating in progressive platforms like equity crowd funding, we are building a significant and well-diversified community business bank in California.”

Reflecting strong year-over-year loan growth and a balance sheet positioned to take advantage of rising interest rates, net interest income increased 28%, after the provision for loan losses, to $3.4 million for the third quarter of 2017, compared to $2.7 million for the third quarter of 2016, On a linked quarter basis, net interest income grew 6% from $3.2 million.  For the first nine months of 2017, net interest income increased 25% to $10.1 million, compared to $8.0 million for the first nine months of 2016.  The provision for loan losses was $350,000 for the third quarter of 2017, compared to $565,000 a year earlier and $395,000 for the second quarter of 2017.

Non-interest income was $634,000 for the third quarter of 2017, compared to $441,000 for the third quarter of 2016, and $570,000 for the second quarter of 2017.  “During the third quarter of 2017 we sold fewer SBA loans than in Q2, however we strategically decided to reposition a portion of our securities portfolio which resulted in a gain of $120,000,” said Steve Canfield.  Debit/credit card interchange income was up 33% and merchant services income also increased 17%, year-over-year on higher volumes.  For the first nine months of 2017, non-interest income was up 19% from the like period a year ago.  

The net interest margin was 4.16% for the third quarter of 2017, compared to 4.20% a year earlier, and 4.27% for the second quarter of 2017.  “Our solid net interest margin was primarily due to our low cost of funds and rising yields on our loans, investments and overnight fund balances,” commented Canfield.  The net interest margin continues to remain well above the average of 3.57% generated by the SNL MicroCap U.S. Bank Index at June 30, 2017.  For the first nine months of 2017, the net interest margin was 4.16%, compared to 4.15% for the like period a year ago.

Operating expenses were consistent at $2.3 million for the second and third quarters of 2017, compared to $2.0 million for the third quarter a year ago.  The increase in noninterest expense from a year ago and for the first nine months of 2017, continues to relate to the hiring of additional business development officers and increased occupancy expense resulting from a new lease of office space adjacent to the Bank’s current headquarters that will provide room for expansion.

The efficiency ratio was 53.95% for the third quarter of 2017, compared to 53.62% a year ago, and 54.91% for the quarter ended June 30, 2017. 

Total assets increased 13% to $377.0 million at September 30, 2017, compared to $333.5 million at September 30, 2016, and grew 7% from $352.0 on a linked quarter basis.

Total loans grew 14% to $244.9 million at September 30, 2017, from $214.8 million a year ago, and declined 1% from $247.6 million at June 30, 2017.

The commercial and industrial (C&I) portfolio totaled $114.6 million, representing 47% of total loans at September 30, 2017.  Commercial real estate (CRE) loans totaled $76.8 million, or 31% of total loans.  Agriculture and land loans totaled $23.0 million, denoting 10% of loans; residential home loans were $12.7 million, or 5% of loans, and real estate construction and land development loans were $17.5 million, or 7% of loans.

Total deposits increased 13% to $342.1 million at September 30, 2017, compared to $303.3 million from a year earlier and grew 7% from $318.3 million at June 30, 2017.  “The acquisition rate for new customers is running 15% ahead of the first nine months of 2016,” said Miller.  “We anticipate our asset and deposit growth to continue through the end of the year.”

Noninterest-bearing demand deposits increased 25% to $184.6 million at September 30, 2017, representing 54% of total deposits, compared to $147.1 million, or 48% of total deposits a year ago.  The ratio of loans to deposits was 71.58% at September 30, 2017, compared to 70.81% one year earlier and 77.79% at June 30, 2017.

Shareholder’s equity, net of accumulated other comprehensive income, was $33.8 million at September 30, 2017, compared to $29.6 million a year ago.  Book value per common share increased 11% to $12.00 at September 30, 2017, compared to $10.85 a year ago

Nonperforming assets (“NPAs”) totaled $2.9 million at September 30, 2017, and at June 30, 2017, compared to $295,000 one year earlier.  “The NPAs remain the same as reported in the second quarter of 2017 and represent a series of loans isolated to one borrower,” said Miller.  “The loans are well-secured with good collateral, and we are keeping communications open with the borrower.”

The provision for loan losses was $350,000 for the third quarter of 2017, compared to $565,000 for the third quarter of 2016 and $395,000 for the preceding quarter.  The provision for loan losses declined to $825,000 for the first nine months of 2017, compared to $1,090,000 for the first nine months of 2016.

Net charge-offs were $31,000 for the third quarter of 2017, compared to $2.0 million for the third quarter a year ago.  Year-to-date, net charge-offs totaled $358,000, compared to $2.0 million a year ago.  The allowance for loan losses to total loans ratio was 1.37% at September 30, 2017, compared to 1.25% a year earlier and 1.22% at June 30, 2017. 

Communities First Financial Corporation, a bank holding company established in 2014, is the parent company of Fresno First Bank, founded in 2005 in Fresno, California.  Fresno First Bank is a leading SBA Bank Lender in California’s Central Valley. The Bank was named to the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies list in 2017 and to Forbes Best 25 Small Businesses in America for 2016. Additional information is available from the Company’s website at or call 559-439-0200.

This earnings release may contain forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements provide current expectations or forecasts of future events and are not guarantees of future performance, nor should they be relied upon as representing management’s views as of any subsequent date. The forward-looking statements are based on managements’ expectations and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties. Although management believes that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied in such statements. Risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially include, without limitation, the Company’s ability to effectively execute its business plans; changes in general economic and financial market conditions; changes in interest rates; changes in the competitive environment; continuing consolidation in the financial services industry; new litigation or changes in existing litigation; losses, customer bankruptcy, claims and assessments; changes in banking regulations or other regulatory or legislative requirements affecting the Company’s business; international developments; and changes in accounting policies or procedures as may be required by the Financial Accounting Standards Board or other regulatory agencies. The Company undertakes no obligation to release publicly the results of any revisions to the forward-looking statements included herein to reflect events or circumstances after today, or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.  The Company claims the protection of the safe harbor for forward-looking statements contained in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.

 

  

Contact: Steve Miller – President & CEOSteve Canfield – Executive Vice President & CFO(559) 439-0200

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Globe Newswire: 14:00 GMT Thursday 12th October 2017

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