First Financial Bancorp. (NASDAQ:FFBC) Q4 2019 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript

Jan 24, 2020 • 08:30 am ET

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First Financial Bancorp. (NASDAQ:FFBC) Q4 2019 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript

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Presentation
Operator
Operator

Good day, and welcome to the First Financial Bancorp Fourth Quarter 2019 Earnings Conference Call and Webcast. [Operator Instructions] After today's presentation, there will be an opportunity to ask questions. [Operator Instructions]

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

Executive
Scott T. Crawley

Thanks, Elisa. Good morning everyone, thank you for joining us today on today's conference call to discuss First Financial Bancorp's fourth quarter and full-year 2019 financial results. Participating on today's call will be Archie Brown, President and Chief Executive Officer; and Jamie Anderson, Chief Financial 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. Additionally, please refer to the forward-looking statement disclosure contained in the fourth quarter 2019 earnings release, as well as our SEC filings for a full discussion of the company's risk factors. The information we will provide today is accurate as of December 31st 2019, and we will not be updating any forward-looking statements to reflect facts or circumstances after this call.

I'll now turn the call over to Archie Brown.

Executive
Archie M. Brown

Thank you, Scott. Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us on today's call. Yesterday afternoon we announced our financial results for the fourth quarter and full-year 2019. Before I turn the call over to Jamie to discuss those results in greater detail I'd like to recap this year's performance and provide some highlights from the most recent quarter.

2019 was another successful year for First Financial, while we faced headwinds from the Fed rate cuts and the large charge-off of a single franchise loan, year was highlighted by record earnings, top-quartile returns, shareholder focused capital actions and the Bannockburn acquisition. The addition of this experienced team and its capital market offerings will create new opportunities for our bank, clients and shareholders.

Additionally, we continue to invest in strategic areas such as digital talent and technology, which will further enhance longer-term performance. Our 2019 performance demonstrates continued strength in our businesses despite a more challenging interest rate backdrop, I like to include full-year earnings of $2.14 per share, a 1.49% return on average assets, a 17.44% return on average tangible common equity and a sub-53% efficiency ratio when adjusted to remove acquisition-related and non-operating items.

We were pleased with our fourth quarter results which mark our 117th consecutive quarter of profitability. And were highlighted by the strongest loan volume of the year, a full quarter of fee income from the Bannockburn acquisition and significant improvement in classified assets. For the quarter, our adjusted performance metrics included earnings per share of $0.52, a 1.4% return on average assets, a 16.73% return on average tangible common equity and a 56% efficiency ratio. Positive core banking trends include strong C&I and CRE loan demand, which resulted in record fourth quarter originations and 6% balance growth on an annualized