By First Merchants—
Muncie, IN—First Merchants Corporation (NASDAQ – FRME) has reported fourth quarter 2020 net income of $45.1 million compared to $47.8 million during the same period in 2019. Earnings per share for the period totaled $.83 per share compared to fourth quarter 2019 result of $.87 per share. Net income for the year ended December 31, 2020 totaled $148.6 million, compared to $164.5 million during the same period in 2019. Year-to-date earnings per share totaled $2.74 compared to $3.19 in 2019.
Total assets equaled $14.1 billion as of year-end and loans totaled $9.2 billion. The Corporation’s loan portfolio increased by $789 million, or 9.2 percent, during 2020. Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loans accounted for $667 million of the year’s loan growth. Investments increased $551 million, or 21.2 percent, during the year and now total $3.1 billion. Total deposits equaled $11.4 billion as of year-end and increased by $1.5 billion, or 15.5 percent, during 2020.
Mark Hardwick, Chief Executive Officer, stated, “We are proud of our 2020 results given the significant headwinds of the past year. The global pandemic quickly turned 2020 into a year filled with economic, political, medical and logistical challenges. However, our employees demonstrated courage and a can-do attitude for the benefit of all stakeholders. We guided over 5,200 customers through the Paycheck Protection Program while maintaining branch and back-office operations with as many as 1,000 employees working remotely. We grew loans by 9.2 percent, deposits by 15.5 percent, processed over 2,700 loan modifications and donated an additional $1 million to COVID relief efforts in our communities. Despite providing $58.7 million to the allowance for loan losses and managing through 40 basis points of margin compression we still delivered $149 million of net income to shareholders.” Hardwick also added, “Executive management expects 2021 to be a year of increasing momentum as the vaccine helps reopen our lobbies and allows us to repopulate our offices while growing our customer base.”
At the beginning of 2020, the Corporation chose to defer the adoption of the current expected credit loss (“CECL”) model. The passing of the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act in December of 2020 prompted the SEC to allow for the adoption of CECL on January 1, 2021 with a Day 1 measurement date of January 1, 2021. As such, the allowance for loan losses was calculated under the incurred loss method in the fourth quarter. The Corporation’s provision expense totaled $4.5 million for the fourth quarter and $58.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2020. Net charge-offs totaled $0.6 million for the quarter and $8.3 million for the year. The allowance for loan losses totaled $130.6 million at year end, which increased $3.9 million in the fourth quarter. Allowance for loan losses is 1.41 percent of total loans and 1.52 percent excluding PPP loans from total loans. The Corporation also has $23 million in remaining fair value marks.
Net-interest income totaled $382.1 million for the year, an increase of $25.5 million, or 7.1 percent, in the face of a net interest margin declineof 40 basis points to 3.29 percent. Yield on earning assets declined by 94 basis points totaling 3.84 percent and the cost of supporting liabilities decreased by 54 basis points and totaled 0.55 percent. Fair value accretion contributed one basis point less in margin as it accounted for 12 basis points in 2019 and 11 basis points in 2020. Yield on earning assets for the fourth quarter totaled 3.72 percent with cost of supporting liabilities totaling 0.34 percent resulting in a margin of 3.38 percent. PPP loans contributed 16 basis points to margin during the fourth quarter as unamortized SBA fees were recognized upon loan forgiveness.
Non-interest income totaled $109.9 million for the year, a $23.2 million, or 26.8 percent increase from 2019. Customer specific line items accounted for $15.3 million of increase in total non-interest income. Gains on sales of mortgage loans increased $10.4 million over 2019 and hit a record high of $18.3 million for 2020 which offset the headwinds of lower service charges on deposits and the impact of the Durbin Amendment adoption on card payment fees. Fiduciary and wealth management fees also contributed to the increase with growth of $6.2 million over 2019.
Non-interest expense totaled $263.4 million for the year ended 2020, a $16.6 million increase from 2019. The fourth quarter of 2020 includes charges of $4.5 million related to the announcement of the consolidation of 17 banking centers. Additionally, FDIC expense increased $5.1 million year over year due to the use of FDIC credits in 2019. Merger related expenses of $13.7 million were also included in the 2019 totals.
The Corporation’s loan to deposit ratio now totals 81 percent and loan to asset ratio totals 66 percent. Additionally, the Corporation’s total risk-based capital ratio equaled 14.36 percent, common equity tier 1 capital ratio equaled 12.02 percent, and the tangible common equity ratio totaled 9.65 percent. Excluding PPP loans, the tangible common equity ratio totaled 9.99 percent.
About First Merchants Corporation
First Merchants Corporation is a financial holding company headquartered in Muncie, Indiana. The Corporation has one full-service bank charter, First Merchants Bank. The Bank also operates as First Merchants Private Wealth Advisors (as a division of First Merchants Bank). First Merchants Corporation’s common stock is traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market System under the symbol FRME. Quotations are carried in daily newspapers and can be found on the company’s Internet web page (http://www.firstmerchants.com).