First Western Financial, Inc (NASDAQ:MYFW) Q4 2018 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript
Jan 25, 2019 • 12:00 pm ET
Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you for standing by. We welcome you to the First Western Financial Fourth Quarter 2018 Earnings Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later, we will conduct a question-and-answer session and instructions will follow at that time. (Operator Instructions) As a reminder, this conference call may be recorded.
I would now like to turn the conference over to Investor Relations for First Western Financial, Tony Rossi. Please go ahead, sir.
Thank you, George. Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us today for First Western Financial's Fourth Quarter 2018 Earnings Call. Joining us from First Western's Management Team are Scott Wylie, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; and Julie Courkamp, Chief Financial Officer.
We will use a slide presentation as part of our discussion this morning. If you have not done so already, please visit the Events and Presentations page of First Western's Investor Relations website to download a copy of the presentation.
The management team will discuss the fourth quarter results and then we'll open up the call for questions.
Before we begin, I'd like to remind you that this conference call contains forward-looking statements with respect to the future performance and financial condition of First Western Financial that involve risks and uncertainties. Various factors could cause actual results to be materially different from any future results expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. These factors are discussed in the company's SEC Filings which are available on the company's website. I would also direct you to read the disclaimers in our earnings release and investor presentation. The company disclaims any obligation to update any forward-looking statements made during the call. Additionally, management may refer to non-GAAP measures, which are intended to supplement but not substitute for the most directly comparable GAAP measures, the press release available on the website, contains the financial and other quantitative information to be discussed today as well as the reconciliation of the GAAP to non-GAAP measures.
And with that, I'd like to turn the call over to Scott. Scott?
All right. Thanks, Tony, and good morning, everyone. I'm going to start us off on Slide 3 with overview of the fourth quarter. Our team continued to execute on the drivers of earnings growth that we had identified ahead of the IPO last summer and finished 2018 with a strong quarter that we believe provides excellent momentum heading into 2019. In the fourth quarter, we reported net income available to common shareholders of $1.7 million, up more than 20% from the previous quarter and $0.22 in earnings per diluted share, a 15.8% increase from the prior quarter.
We continue to gain traction with our business development efforts and produced strong balance sheet growth during the fourth quarter as well. Our gross loans increased to 17.1% annualized rate while our total loans grew at 26.9% annualized rate. We also continue to carefully manage our cost structure and generate more operating leverage. Our non-interest income expense declined