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First Bank earnings rebound in 2013

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After tumbling 15 percent in 2012, net earnings of First Evanston Bancorp, Inc. more than made up for the decline in 2013, according to financial statements released by the parent of First Bank & Trust of Evanston.

Net earnings for the year amounted to $4,253,000, up 19.3 percent from the previous year’s earnings of $3,565,000. The 2013 earnings exceeded the $4,061,000 earned in 2011.

On a per-share basis, earnings for 2013 amounted to $2.76, compared to $2.36 the previous year and $2.78 in 2011, when there were fewer common shares outstanding.

The company periodically repurchases its shares as they become available, according to the yearend report. It repurchased 5,015 shares in 2013 and 32,684 shares in 2012 under its repurchase authorizations.

The bank increased its loans, deposits, and total assets as it continued its relentless climb to a landmark $1 billion bank.

Loans, net of loan losses, increased 11.9 percent from $562,946,000 at the end of 2012 to $629,927,000 at the end of 2013.

Deposits rose about 1.6 percent from $755,442,000 to $767,574,000 during the year, while total assets reached $857,442,000, an increase of nearly 3.4 percent from $829,480,000 a year earlier.

Of significance to shareholders was the statement that the company has continued to increase its retained earnings to the point that it now has some $12,247,000 available for dividends, if the board chooses to declare the company’s first dividend in its history. A year ago it had only about $10,778,000 available for dividends.

Under provisions of the Illinois Banking Act, dividends may not be declared by a bank except out of retained net profits. It is not uncommon for banks to hang onto retained earnings for acquisitions and for a buffer against a bad earnings year.

The financial statements were issued last week in concert with its announcement that the annual meeting of stockholders will be held at the bank’s headquarters at 820 Church St. at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, March 18.

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio stations and business-oriented magazines.

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