First Financial Bancorp. (NASDAQ:FFBC.W) Q4 2016 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript

Jan 20, 2017 • 08:30 am ET

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First Financial Bancorp. (NASDAQ:FFBC.W) Q4 2016 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript

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Presentation
Operator
Operator

Good morning and welcome to the First Financial Bancorp Fourth Quarter [2016] Earnings Conference Call and Webcast. All participants will be in listen-only mode. (Operator Instructions) After today's presentation, there will be an opportunity to ask questions. (Operator Instructions) Please note, this event is being recorded.

I would now like to turn the conference over to Scott Crawley, Corporate Controller. Please go ahead.

Executive
Scott Crawley

Thank you, Andrew. Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us on today's conference call to discuss First Financial Bancorp's fourth quarter and full year 2016 financial results. Participating on today's call will be Claude Davis, Chief Executive Officer; John Gavigan, Chief Financial Officer; and Tony Stollings, Chief Operating Officer.

Both the press release we issued yesterday and the accompanying slide presentation are available on our website at www.bankatfirst.com under the Investor Relations section. We will make reference to the slides contained in the accompanying presentation during today's call.

(Forward-looking Cautionary Statements)

I'll now turn the call over to Claude Davis.

Executive
Claude Davis

Thanks, Scott and thanks for those joining the call today. Yesterday afternoon we announced our financial results for the fourth quarter and for the full-year 2016. Before I turn the call over to John to discuss our results in greater detail, I would like to recap the progress we made this year and recognize the outstanding effort of our talented associate who make our success possible.

This is the year in which we focused on execution of our core strategy. With past acquisitions fully integrated, we were able to concentrate our efforts on growing organically and delivering exceptional client service. We realigned our senior leadership team to bring new energy to our business lines and through the efforts of our sales and support teams, have made great strides to deliver on our premier business bank strategy.

As shown on slide 3, in 2016 we realized solid loan and deposit growth, stabilized net interest margin, implemented strategies to grow fee income, and maintained disciplined expense management and strong credit metrics during the year. These actions enabled us to offset impacts from the prolonged low interest rate environment, declining loss share related income to grow full-year earnings by 18% and achieve a sub 59% efficiency ratio, a 1.07% return on average assets, and a 14% return on average tangible common equity.

As shown on slide 4, our fourth quarter results were also strong and marked our 105th consecutive quarter profitability. Proactive balance sheet management and an improved net interest margin allowed us to offset the impact of slower than anticipated loan production and achieve our best quarterly performance of the year. Capital ratios improved during the period and our fourth quarter results continue to reflect a steady credit environment and disciplined expense management.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to announce that First Financial's Board of Directors has increased the quarterly shareholder dividend from $0.16 to $0.17 per share. Our capital levels and earnings consistency support the higher shareholder dividend while still retaining