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Loan growth boosts First Bank’s net

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Growth in real estate and commercial lending propelled earnings at First Evanston Bankcorp, Inc. nearly 13 percent  for the first nine months of the year, compared to the same period last year.

Net income for the parent company of First Bank & Trust for the period amounted to $3,008,000, up 12.9 percent from $2,663,000 for the first nine months of 2012.

On a per-share basis, earnings were $1.96, up 11 percent from $1.76 in 2012.

Robert R. Yohanan, managing director and chief executive officer, credited the growth in loan volume to new business efforts that “proved most productive” in his quarterly letter to stockholders.

But he noted that loan margins “have continued to suffer from extremely keen competition for commercial and industrial loans.”

Nevertheless, the bank was “fortunate to operate with very few problem loans, very good liquidity and capital, and an excellent pipeline of prospective businesses,” he wrote.

On the balance sheet for Sept. 30, loans this year, net of an allowance for loan losses, amounted to $591 million, compared to $533 million a year earlier. While commercial and real estate loans climbed 16.1 percent and 17.5 percent, respectively, home equity and consumer loans were slightly lower.

Deposits, however, increased in all reported categories, totaling $766 million vs. $696 million, for a year-to-year increase of about 10 percent. Total assets climbed about 9.5 percent, from $771 million to $844 million.

Without giving specific figures, Yohanan said that the bank’s Trust/Investment Department’s performance was “exceptional,” with assets under management and earnings “at historic levels.”

He cautioned that returns “continue to suffer due to the extremely low interest rate environment brought on by the Federal Reserve’s policy of quantitative easing and a weakened but improving economy.”

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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