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Meridian Interstate Bancorp, Inc. Reports Net Income for the Third Quarter and Nine Months Ended September 30, 2012

BOSTON, Oct. 23, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Meridian Interstate Bancorp, Inc. (the "Company" or "Meridian") (Nasdaq:EBSB), the holding company for East Boston Savings Bank (the "Bank"), which also operates under the name Mt. Washington Bank, a Division of East Boston Savings Bank ("Mt. Washington"), announced net income of $2.7 million, or $0.12 per diluted share, for the quarter ended September 30, 2012 compared to $2.6 million, or $0.12 per diluted share, for the quarter ended September 30, 2011. For the nine months ended September 30, 2012, net income was $10.3 million, or $0.47 per diluted share compared to $10.0 million, or $0.46 per diluted share, for the nine months ended September 30, 2011. The Company recorded a pre-tax gain of $4.8 million on June 8, 2012 due to the sale of Hampshire First Bank, which was 43% owned by the Company, to NBT Bancorp, Inc. and NBT Bank, N.A. On an after-tax basis, this gain increased net income by $2.9 million, or $0.13 per diluted share, for the nine months ended September 30, 2012. The Company's return on average assets was 0.50% for the quarter ended September 30, 2012 compared to 0.54% for the quarter ended September 30, 2011. For the nine months ended September 30, 2012, the Company's return on average assets was 0.67% compared to 0.70% for the nine months ended September 30, 2011. The Company's return on average equity was 4.70% for the quarter ended September 30, 2012 compared to 4.78% for the quarter ended September 30, 2011. For the nine months ended September 30, 2012, the Company's return on average equity was 6.05% compared to 6.08% for the nine months ended September 30, 2011.

Richard J. Gavegnano, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said, "I am pleased to report net income of $2.7 million, or $0.12 per share, for the third quarter of 2012. Net interest income rose 15% for the third quarter of 2012, reflecting growth in the Bank's loan portfolio of $391 million, or 32%, and core deposits of $271 million, or 30%, since September of last year. Such significant growth validates the actions taken over the past year to expand capacity in real estate and business lending, core deposit funding sources and support functions that contributed to increases in our market share and franchise value. We will continue to expand our footprint with a new East Boston Savings Bank branch in the Town of Belmont and a new Mt. Washington branch in Boston's Allston neighborhood to be opened late this year or early next year."

Net interest income increased $2.1 million, or 14.8%, to $16.4 million for the quarter ended September 30, 2012 from $14.3 million for the quarter ended September 30, 2011. The net interest rate spread and net interest margin were 3.05% and 3.21%, respectively, for the quarter ended September 30, 2012 compared to 2.97% and 3.15%, respectively, for the quarter ended September 30, 2011. For the nine months ended September 30, 2012, net interest income increased $5.7 million, or 13.2%, to $48.7 million from $43.0 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2011. The net interest rate spread and net interest margin were 3.18% and 3.35%, respectively, for the nine months ended September 30, 2012 compared to 3.07% and 3.24%, respectively, for the nine months ended September 30, 2011. The increases in net interest income were due primarily to strong loan growth along with declines in the cost of funds for the third quarter and nine months ended September 30, 2012 compared to the same periods in 2011.

The average balance of the Company's loan portfolio increased $358.7 million, or 29.0%, to $1.598 billion, which was partially offset by the decline in the yield on loans of 53 basis points to 4.77% for the quarter ended September 30, 2012 compared to the quarter ended September 30, 2011. The Company's cost of total deposits declined 24 basis points to 0.89%, which was partially offset by the increase in the average balance of total deposits of $182.6 million, or 11.7%, to $1.742 billion for the quarter ended September 30, 2012 compared to the quarter ended September 30, 2011. The Company's yield on interest-earning assets declined 15 basis points to 4.14% for the quarter ended September 30, 2012 compared to 4.29% for the quarter ended September 30, 2011, while the cost of funds declined 23 basis points to 0.99% for the quarter ended September 30, 2012 compared to 1.22% for the quarter ended September 30, 2011.

The Company's provision for loan losses was $2.3 million for the quarter ended September 30, 2012 compared to $1.6 million for the quarter ended September 30, 2011. For the nine months ended September 30, 2012, the provision for loan losses was $5.8 million compared to $2.4 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2011. These changes were based primarily on management's assessment of loan portfolio growth and composition changes, an ongoing evaluation of credit quality and current economic conditions. In addition, increases in the provision for loan losses were primarily due to growth in the commercial real estate, construction and commercial business loan categories for the third quarter and nine months ended September 30, 2012 compared to the same periods in 2011. The allowance for loan losses was $18.6 million or 1.13% of total loans outstanding at September 30, 2012, compared to $13.1 million or 0.96% of total loans outstanding at December 31, 2011.

Non-performing loans declined $13.0 million, or 24.1%, to $40.7 million, or 2.48% of total loans outstanding, at September 30, 2012, from $53.7 million, or 3.97% of total loans outstanding, at December 31, 2011. Non-performing assets declined $14.3 million, or 24.9%, to $43.2 million, or 1.95% of total assets, at September 30, 2012, from $57.5 million, or 2.91% of total assets, at December 31, 2011. Non-performing assets at September 30, 2012 were comprised of $7.8 million of construction loans, $9.2 million of commercial real estate loans, $19.2 million of one- to four-family mortgage loans, $1.5 million of multi-family mortgage loans, $2.5 million of home equity loans, and $525,000 of commercial business loans and foreclosed real estate of $2.5 million. Non-performing assets at September 30, 2012 included $20.0 million of assets acquired in the January 2010 Mt. Washington Co-operative Bank merger, comprised of $19.2 million of non-performing loans and $769,000 of foreclosed real estate.

Non-interest income increased $1.0 million, or 28.9%, to $4.5 million for the quarter ended September 30, 2012 from $3.5 million for the quarter ended September 30, 2011, primarily due to increases of $1.1 million in gain on sales of securities, net and $433,000 in customer service fees, partially offset by decreases of $314,000 in equity income from the Hampshire First Bank affiliate and $123,000 in mortgage banking gains, net. For the nine months ended September 30, 2012, non-interest income increased $4.7 million, or 37.5%, to $17.1 million from $12.4 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2011, primarily due to a $4.8 million gain on sale of the Hampshire First Bank affiliate and increases of $722,000 in customer service fees and $434,000 in mortgage banking gains, net, partially offset by decreases of $822,000 in equity income from the Hampshire First Bank affiliate and $312,000 in gain on sales of securities, net.

Non-interest expenses increased $2.1 million, or 17.2%, to $14.4 million for the quarter ended September 30, 2012 from $12.3 million for the quarter ended September 30, 2011, primarily due to increases of $975,000 in salaries and employee benefits and $1.1 million in other non-interest expenses. For the nine months ended September 30, 2012, non-interest expenses increased $7.0 million, or 18.9%, to $44.4 million from $37.4 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2011, primarily due to increases of $4.8 million in salaries and employee benefits and $2.3 million in other non-interest expenses. The increases in non-interest expenses were primarily associated with the new branches opened and costs associated with the expansion of residential and commercial lending capacity in the past year. The Company's efficiency ratio was 74.14% for the quarter ended September 30, 2012 compared to 70.58% for the quarter ended September 30, 2011. For the nine months ended September 30, 2012, the efficiency ratio was 77.93%, excluding the gain on sale of the Hampshire First Bank affiliate, compared to 73.04% for the nine months ended September 30, 2011.

Mr. Gavegnano noted, "Our efficiency ratio has declined from the higher levels reported earlier this year. We anticipate further improvement in our efficiency ratio with net interest income expected to rise as we continue to emphasize loan and deposit growth."

The Company recorded a provision for income taxes of $1.6 million for the quarter ended September 30, 2012, reflecting an effective tax rate of 36.4%, compared to $1.4 million, or 34.5%, for the quarter ended September 30, 2011. For the nine months ended September 30, 2012, the provision for income taxes was $5.3 million, reflecting an effective tax rate of 33.7%, compared to $5.7 million, or 36.1%, for the nine months ended September 30, 2011. The changes in the income tax provision were primarily due to changes in the components of pre-tax income.

Total assets increased $245.0 million, or 12.4%, to $2.219 billion at September 30, 2012 from $1.974 billion at December 31, 2011. Net loans increased $283.8 million, or 21.2%, to $1.625 billion at September 30, 2012 from $1.341 billion at December 31, 2011. The net increase in loans for the nine months ended September 30, 2012 was primarily due to increases of $83.2 million in commercial real estate loans, $97.3 million in construction loans and $64.0 million in commercial business loans. Cash and cash equivalents increased $20.8 million, or 13.3%, to $177.5 million at September 30, 2012 from $156.7 million at December 31, 2011. Securities available for sale decreased $60.4 million, or 18.0%, to $274.8 million at September 30, 2012 from $335.2 million at December 31, 2011.

Total deposits increased $192.4 million, or 12.0%, to $1.797 billion at September 30, 2012 from $1.604 billion at December 31, 2011, reflecting net growth in core deposits of $204.4 million, or 21.3%, to $1.162 billion. Total borrowings increased $40.4 million, or 30.7%, to $171.9 million at September 30, 2012 from $131.5 million at December 31, 2011, reflecting a $46.9 million increase in Federal Home Loan Bank advances partially offset by a $6.5 million decrease in short-term borrowings.

Mr. Gavegnano added, "Our dedication to the acquisition and expansion of core deposit relationships has resulted in growth in those non-term balances to nearly $1.2 billion, or 64.7% of total deposits, at September 30, 2012, and a continuing decline in our cost of funds."

Total stockholders' equity increased $12.7 million, or 5.8%, to $232.7 million at September 30, 2012, from $219.9 million at December 31, 2011. The increase for the nine months ended September 30, 2012 was due primarily to $10.3 million in net income and a $2.2 million increase in accumulated other comprehensive income reflecting an increase in the fair value of available for sale securities, net of tax, partially offset by a $1.1 million increase in treasury stock resulting from the Company's repurchase of 86,304 shares. Stockholders' equity to assets was 10.48% at September 30, 2012, compared to 11.14% at December 31, 2011. Book value per share increased to $10.54 at September 30, 2012 from $9.93 at December 31, 2011. Tangible book value per share increased to $9.92 at September 30, 2012 from $9.31 at December 31, 2011. Market price per share increased $4.05, or 32.5%, to $16.50 at September 30, 2012 from $12.45 at December 31, 2011. At September 30, 2012, the Company and the Bank continued to exceed all regulatory capital requirements.

As of September 30, 2012, the Company had repurchased 195,366 shares of its stock at an average price of $12.83 per share, or 21.6% of the 904,224 shares authorized for repurchase under the Company's fourth repurchase program as adopted during 2011. The Company has repurchased 1,599,294 shares at an average price of $10.45 per share since December 2008.

Mr. Gavegnano said, "We appreciate the rise in the Company's stock price of one third during the year. We believe the strategies implemented by the Company's management as approved by the Board of Directors are yielding impressive results from our entire team. We will continue to consider various additional opportunities to enhance shareholder value."

Meridian Interstate Bancorp, Inc. is the holding company for East Boston Savings Bank. East Boston Savings Bank, a Massachusetts-chartered stock savings bank founded in 1848, operates 24 full service locations in the greater Boston metropolitan area including eight full-service locations in its Mt. Washington Bank Division. We offer a variety of deposit and loan products to individuals and businesses located in our primary market, which consists of Essex, Middlesex and Suffolk Counties, Massachusetts. For additional information, visit www.ebsb.com.

Forward Looking Statements

Certain statements herein constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements may be identified by words such as "believes," "will," "expects," "project," "may," "could," "developments," "strategic," "launching," "opportunities," "anticipates," "estimates," "intends," "plans," "targets" and similar expressions. These statements are based upon the current beliefs and expectations of Meridian Interstate Bancorp, Inc.'s management and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements as a result of numerous factors. Factors that could cause such differences to exist include, but are not limited to, general economic conditions, changes in interest rates, regulatory considerations, and competition and the risk factors described in the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K and Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q as filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Should one or more of these risks materialize or should underlying beliefs or assumptions prove incorrect, Meridian Interstate Bancorp, Inc.'s actual results could differ materially from those discussed. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this release.

MERIDIAN INTERSTATE BANCORP, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
Consolidated Balance Sheets
(Unaudited)
September 30, December 31,
2012 2011
(Dollars in thousands)
ASSETS
Cash and due from banks $ 177,449 $ 156,622
Federal funds sold 63 63
Total cash and cash equivalents 177,512 156,685
Certificates of deposit - affiliate bank -- 2,500
Securities available for sale, at fair value 274,804 335,230
Federal Home Loan Bank stock, at cost 12,064 12,538
Loans held for sale 23,262 4,192
Loans 1,643,761 1,354,354
Less allowance for loan losses (18,622) (13,053)
Loans, net 1,625,139 1,341,301
Bank-owned life insurance 35,942 35,050
Foreclosed real estate, net 2,487 3,853
Investment in affiliate bank -- 12,607
Premises and equipment, net 38,291 36,991
Accrued interest receivable 6,466 7,282
Prepaid deposit insurance 49 1,257
Deferred tax asset, net 6,069 7,434
Goodwill 13,687 13,687
Other assets 3,634 3,773
Total assets $ 2,219,406 $ 1,974,380
LIABILITIES AND STOCKHOLDERS' EQUITY
Deposits:
Non interest-bearing $ 192,019 $ 145,274
Interest-bearing 1,604,832 1,459,214
Total deposits 1,796,851 1,604,488
Short-term borrowings - affiliate bank -- 6,471
Short-term borrowings - other 10,067 10,056
Long-term debt 161,784 114,923
Accrued expenses and other liabilities 18,026 18,498
Total liabilities 1,986,728 1,754,436
Stockholders' equity:
Common stock, no par value, 50,000,000 shares authorized; 23,000,000 shares issued -- --
Additional paid-in capital 98,198 97,669
Retained earnings 144,850 134,533
Accumulated other comprehensive income 6,227 3,985
Treasury stock, at cost, 667,395 and 584,881 shares at September 30, 2012 and December 31, 2011, respectively (8,411) (7,317)
Unearned compensation - ESOP, 631,350 and 662,400 shares at September 30, 2012 and December 31, 2011, respectively (6,313) (6,624)
Unearned compensation - restricted shares, 256,740 and 265,710 at September 30, 2012 and December 31, 2011, respectively (1,873) (2,302)
Total stockholders' equity 232,678 219,944
Total liabilities and stockholders' equity $ 2,219,406 $ 1,974,380
MERIDIAN INTERSTATE BANCORP, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
Consolidated Statements of Income
(Unaudited)
Three Months Ended September 30, Nine Months Ended September 30,
2012 2011 2012 2011
(Dollars in thousands, except per share amounts)
Interest and dividend income:
Interest and fees on loans $ 19,139 $ 16,543 $ 55,692 $ 49,340
Interest on debt securities 1,574 2,610 5,778 8,611
Dividends on equity securities 389 249 1,042 748
Interest on certificates of deposit 8 8 26 25
Interest on other interest-earning assets 55 104 184 306
Other interest and dividend income 16 8 64 44
Total interest and dividend income 21,181 19,522 62,786 59,074
Interest expense:
Interest on deposits 3,905 4,426 11,725 13,615
Interest on short-term borrowings 4 9 13 32
Interest on long-term debt 833 769 2,363 2,426
Total interest expense 4,742 5,204 14,101 16,073
Net interest income 16,439 14,318 48,685 43,001
Provision for loan losses 2,344 1,563 5,778 2,391
Net interest income, after provision for loan losses 14,095 12,755 42,907 40,610
Non-interest income:
Customer service fees 1,834 1,401 4,918 4,196
Loan fees 51 160 290 437
Mortgage banking gains, net 750 873 1,912 1,478
Gain on sales of securities, net 1,602 467 3,944 4,256
Income from bank-owned life insurance 296 304 892 919
Equity income on investment in affiliate bank -- 314 310 1,132
Gain on sale of investment in affiliate bank -- -- 4,819 --
Other income 6 2 7 17
Total non-interest income 4,539 3,521 17,092 12,435
Non-interest expenses:
Salaries and employee benefits 8,644 7,669 26,587 21,828
Occupancy and equipment 1,882 1,765 5,977 5,850
Data processing 896 729 2,585 2,189
Marketing and advertising 557 551 1,766 1,632
Professional services 727 548 2,430 1,989
Foreclosed real estate 208 30 494 130
Deposit insurance 427 211 1,298 1,469
Other general and administrative 1,025 759 3,294 2,297
Total non-interest expenses 14,366 12,262 44,431 37,384
Income before income taxes 4,268 4,014 15,568 15,661
Provision for income taxes 1,554 1,384 5,251 5,655
Net income $ 2,714 $ 2,630 $ 10,317 $ 10,006
Earnings per share:
Basic $ 0.13 $ 0.12 $ 0.48 $ 0.46
Diluted $ 0.12 $ 0.12 $ 0.47 $ 0.46
Weighted average shares:
Basic 21,606,540 21,721,219 21,633,654 21,851,237
Diluted 21,871,578 21,843,081 21,835,894 21,976,728
MERIDIAN INTERSTATE BANCORP, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
Net Interest Income Analysis
(Unaudited)
For the Three Months Ended September 30,
2012 2011
Average Yield/ Average Yield/
Balance Interest Cost (5) Balance Interest Cost (5)
(Dollars in thousands)
Assets:
Interest-earning assets:
Loans (1) $ 1,597,528 $ 19,139 4.77% $ 1,238,787 $ 16,543 5.30%
Securities and certificates of deposits 286,257 1,971 2.74 351,591 2,867 3.24
Other interest-earning assets (2) 152,519 71 0.19 214,075 112 0.21
Total interest-earning assets 2,036,304 21,181 4.14 1,804,453 19,522 4.29
Noninterest-earning assets 122,327 128,334
Total assets $ 2,158,631 $ 1,932,787
Liabilities and stockholders' equity:
Interest-bearing liabilities:
NOW deposits $ 159,302 192 0.48 $ 135,989 149 0.43
Money market deposits 542,576 1,173 0.86 383,240 884 0.92
Regular and other deposits 234,869 225 0.38 210,337 257 0.48
Certificates of deposit 628,017 2,315 1.47 701,655 3,136 1.77
Total interest-bearing deposits 1,564,764 3,905 0.99 1,431,221 4,426 1.23
Borrowings 169,736 837 1.96 136,211 778 2.27
Total interest-bearing liabilities 1,734,500 4,742 1.09 1,567,432 5,204 1.32
Noninterest-bearing demand deposits 177,444 128,364
Other noninterest-bearing liabilities 15,518 16,919
Total liabilities 1,927,462 1,712,715
Total stockholders' equity 231,169 220,072
Total liabilities and stockholders' equity $ 2,158,631 $ 1,932,787
Net interest-earning assets $ 301,804 $ 237,021
Net interest income $ 16,439 $ 14,318
Interest rate spread (3) 3.05% 2.97%
Net interest margin (4) 3.21% 3.15%
Average interest-earning assets to average interest-bearing liabilities 117.40% 115.12%
Supplemental Information:
Total deposits, including noninterest-bearing demand deposits $ 1,742,208 $ 3,905 0.89% $ 1,559,585 $ 4,426 1.13%
Total deposits and borrowings, including noninterest-bearing demand deposits $ 1,911,944 $ 4,742 0.99% $ 1,695,796 $ 5,204 1.22%
(1) Loans on non-accrual status are included in average balances.
(2) Includes Federal Home Loan Bank stock and associated dividends.
(3) Interest rate spread represents the difference between the yield on interest-earning assets and the cost of interest-bearing liabilities.
(4) Net interest margin represents net interest income divided by average interest-earning assets.
(5) Annualized.
MERIDIAN INTERSTATE BANCORP, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
Net Interest Income Analysis
(Unaudited)
For the Nine Months Ended September 30,
2012 2011
Average Yield/ Average Yield/
Balance Interest Cost (5) Balance Interest Cost (5)
(Dollars in thousands)
Assets:
Interest-earning assets:
Loans (1) $ 1,495,449 $ 55,692 4.97% $ 1,208,880 $ 49,340 5.46%
Securities and certificates of deposits 308,027 6,846 2.97 372,858 9,384 3.36
Other interest-earning assets (2) 136,217 248 0.24 190,558 350 0.25
Total interest-earning assets 1,939,693 62,786 4.32 1,772,296 59,074 4.46
Noninterest-earning assets 126,110 126,470
Total assets $ 2,065,803 $ 1,898,766
Liabilities and stockholders' equity:
Interest-bearing liabilities:
NOW deposits $ 148,942 517 0.46 $ 131,510 436 0.44
Money market deposits 501,858 3,191 0.85 361,188 2,623 0.97
Regular and other deposits 227,959 655 0.38 203,223 796 0.52
Certificates of deposit 630,742 7,362 1.56 702,357 9,760 1.86
Total interest-bearing deposits 1,509,501 11,725 1.04 1,398,278 13,615 1.30
Borrowings 148,417 2,376 2.14 146,866 2,458 2.24
Total interest-bearing liabilities 1,657,918 14,101 1.14 1,545,144 16,073 1.39
Noninterest-bearing demand deposits 164,571 120,362
Other noninterest-bearing liabilities 15,912 13,706
Total liabilities 1,838,401 1,679,212
Total stockholders' equity 227,402 219,554
Total liabilities and stockholders' equity $ 2,065,803 $ 1,898,766
Net interest-earning assets $ 281,775 $ 227,152
Net interest income $ 48,685 $ 43,001
Interest rate spread (3) 3.18% 3.07%
Net interest margin (4) 3.35% 3.24%
Average interest-earning assets to average interest-bearing liabilities 117.00% 114.70%
Supplemental Information:
Total deposits, including noninterest-bearing demand deposits $ 1,674,072 $ 11,725 0.94% $ 1,518,640 $ 13,615 1.20%
Total deposits and borrowings, including noninterest-bearing demand deposits $ 1,822,489 $ 14,101 1.03% $ 1,665,506 $ 16,073 1.29%
(1) Loans on non-accrual status are included in average balances.
(2) Includes Federal Home Loan Bank stock and associated dividends.
(3) Interest rate spread represents the difference between the yield on interest-earning assets and the cost of interest-bearing liabilities.
(4) Net interest margin represents net interest income divided by average interest-earning assets.
(5) Annualized.
MERIDIAN INTERSTATE BANCORP, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
Selected Financial Highlights
(Unaudited)
At or For the Three Months Ended At or For the Nine Months Ended
September 30, September 30,
2012 2011 2012 2011
Key Performance Ratios
Return on average assets (1) 0.50% 0.54% 0.67% 0.70%
Return on average equity (1) 4.70 4.78 6.05 6.08
Stockholders' equity to total assets 10.48 11.18 10.48 11.18
Interest rate spread (1) (2) 3.05 2.97 3.18 3.07
Net interest margin (1) (3) 3.21 3.15 3.35 3.24
Non-interest expense to average assets (1) 2.66 2.54 2.87 2.63
Efficiency ratio (4) 74.14 70.58 77.93 73.04
September 30, December 31, September 30,
2012 2011 2011
Asset Quality Ratios
Allowance for loan losses/total loans 1.13% 0.96% 0.97%
Allowance for loan losses/non-performing loans 45.71 24.31 24.72
Non-performing loans/total loans 2.48 3.97 3.94
Non-performing loans/total assets 1.84 2.72 2.52
Non-performing assets/total assets 1.95 2.91 2.71
Share Related
Book value per share $ 10.54 $ 9.93 $ 9.82
Tangible book value per share $ 9.92 $ 9.31 $ 9.21
Market value per share $ 16.50 $ 12.45 $ 10.91
Shares outstanding 22,075,865 22,149,409 22,128,686
(1) Annualized.
(2) Interest rate spread represents the difference between the yield on interest-earning assets and the cost of interest-bearing liabilities.
(3) Net interest margin represents net interest income divided by average interest-earning assets.
(4) The efficiency ratio represents non-interest expense divided by the sum of net interest income and non-interest income excluding gains or losses on securities and gain on sale of investment in affiliate bank.
CONTACT: Richard J. Gavegnano, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (978) 977-2211Source:Meridian Interstate Bancorp