Provident Financial Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:PROV) Q2 2020 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript 2020-01-28T17:00:00+0000 Executives Craig G. Blunden - Provident Financial Holdings, Inc., Analysts Kevin Swanson - Hovde Group, Tim Coffey - Janney Montgomery Scott, Operator - Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by and welcome to the Provident Second Quarter 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 be given at that time. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, today's call is being recorded. I will now turn the call over to your host, Mr. Blunden. Please go ahead, sir. Craig G. Blunden - Provident Financial Holdings, Inc. Thank you, Kevin and good morning everyone. This is Craig Blunden, Chairman and CEO of Provident Financial Holdings, and on the call with me is Donavon Ternes, our President, Chief Operating and Chief Financial Officer. Before we begin, I have a brief administrative item to address. Our presentation today discusses the company's business outlook and will include forward-looking statements. Those statements include descriptions of management's plans, objectives or goals for future operations, products or services, forecast of financial or other performance measures and statements about the company's general outlook for economic and business conditions. We also may make forward-looking statements during the question-and-answer period following management's presentation. These forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties and actual results may differ materially from those discussed today. Information on the risk factors could cause actual results to differ from any forward-looking statement is available from the earnings release that was distributed yesterday from the Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year-ended of June 30, 2019 and from the Form 10-Qs, and other SEC filings that are filed subsequent to the Form 10-K. Forward-looking statements are effective only as of date they are made and the company assumes no obligation to update this information. To begin with, thank you for participating in our call. I hope that each of you has had an opportunity to review our earnings release, which describes our second quarter results. In the most recent quarter, we originated and purchases -- purchased $81.6 million of loans held for investment, a decrease from the $93.4 million in the prior sequential quarter. During the quarter, we also experienced $65.2 million of loan principal payments and payoffs, which is up from the $50.8 million in the September 2019 quarter and still tempering the growth rate of loans held for investment. For the three months ended December 31, 2019 loans held for investment increased by approximately 2% in comparison to September 30, 2019 what's growth in single-family and construction loans, but small declines in commercial real estate and multifamily loans. Competition for new loan production remains aggressive but we were successful in augmenting our loan origination activity this quarter with single-family and multi-family loan purchases. We're very pleased with credit quality and you will note that early-stage delinquency balances were just $986,000 at December 31, 2019. In addition, non-performing assets remained at very low levels and are now just $3.4 million, which is down from $6.1 million at December 31, 2018, a 43% decline in the course of the year. We recorded a small $22,000 negative provision in December 2019 quarter resulting from a low levels of non-performing classified assets and no meaningful charge-offs for many quarters. We are pleased with these credit quality results. Our net interest margin expanded by 5 basis points for the quarter ended December 31, 2019 compared to the same quarter last year as a result of 6 basis point increase in the average yield on total interest earning assets and a 1 basis point increase in the cost of interest bearing liabilities. Our average cost of deposits decreased by 3 basis points for the quarter ended December 31, 2019 compared to the same quarter last year. Over the course of the past 12 months, we've been able to hold the line on the cost of core deposits, highlighting the strength and value of our deposit franchise. The 3.59% net interest margin this quarter was augmented by approximately 7 basis points as a result of decrease in amortization of the net deferred loan costs associated with loan payoffs in December quarter in comparison to the average of the five previous quarters. In addition, our net interest margin remained at the top end that its range in comparison to our recent prior quarters. Our net interest expenses, I'm sorry -- our non-interest expenses have declined significantly as a result of scaling back our operations during -- regarding the origination of salable single-family mortgage loans. Notably, our FTE count on December 31, 2019 was 184 comparing to 349 FTE, on the same day last year and we have 10 fewer loan production assets and one last retail banking centers in comparison with the same time last year. As a result, operating expenses declined to approximately $7.6 million in the current quarter compared to approximately $10.9 million in the same quarter last year. Additionally, on a sequential quarter basis, operating expenses were essentially unchanged after adjusting for the $296,000 partially vision of a previously expensed legal settlement in the September 2019 quarter which was not replicated in December 2019 quarter. Our short-term strategy for balance sheet, management is unchanged from last quarter. We believe that releveraging the balance sheet, that prudent loan portfolio growth is the best course of action. We exceed well capitalized capital ratios by a significant margin allowing us to executing our business plan and capital management goals without complications. Although, our repurchase activity was limited to approximately 2,400 shares of common stock in December 2019 quarter, we continue to believe buyback activity is a wise use of capital, and we currently plan to execute on the substantial returns of capital to shareholders in the form of cash dividends and stock repurchases. We encourage everyone to review our December 31 investor presentation posted on our website. You will find that we've included slides regarding financial metrics, asset quality and capital management, which we believe will give you additional insight on our strong financial foundation supporting the future growth of the company. We will now entertain any questions you may have regarding our financial results. Thank you, Kevin? Q & A Operator - Thank you. [Operator Instructions] Okay, we do have a question from the line of Kevin Swanson. Please state your company name, sir. Kevin Swanson - Hovde Group Hovde Group. Hi guys. Craig G. Blunden - Provident Financial Holdings, Inc. Hi, Kevin. Good morning. Kevin Swanson - Hovde Group It looks like you guys kind of nailed kind of the rough guidance on expenses for the quarter, just kind of curious how you see that moving throughout the year in light of some of the movements that you talked about. Thanks. Craig G. Blunden - Provident Financial Holdings, Inc. I think the $7.5 million number per quarter is a relatively, say forecast. I do think we have some opportunity there as we adjust our business lines and as we adjust what we're doing on origination side of the business for portfolio. There's probably not much room as it relates to the deposit side of the business, branch activity or we like. We don't have any plans to close a branch or anything of that nature, so deposit side of the business is probably pretty set, but I think there is a little bit of opportunity, but it's not going to be a significant number, if you will. We think the way we are structured on an FTE count, and in the business model. We can grow assets without increasing expenses and as a result of that and increasing net interest income creates an positive operating leverage on that basis. Kevin Swanson - Hovde Group Okay, thanks. That's helpful. And then a question on the margin, I think you guys are maybe up 5 bps from the same quarter last year and kind of the -- at least, the cost of funds was about steady and we kind of consider the Fed movements as well included in that year. How are you going to see the margin playing out this year, and then kind of the assumption that maybe the Fed does something later on down the road. Craig G. Blunden - Provident Financial Holdings, Inc. Well, I think the -- for us with respect to where we are in the margin, it's going to be largely dependent upon what the yield curve does, recently we just inverted again, I think from 20s or 30s [Phonetic] as a result of flu virus scare. We have come out of the reversion later on in the fourth quarter and we saw steepening of the yield curve and that ultimately helps us because we're lending call it in the five to seven year area and we're probably funding ourselves in the six-month through two year area and anything new coming on the balance sheet is essentially at a lower spread than what our existing balance sheet looks like. So that's going to give us some margin compression probably, but that's all mitigated to some degree by the adjustable nature of the portfolio to the extent that there are floors in many of our loan. So many of our loans are multi-family and commercial real estate, they all have floors. Right now, there is about $317 million of that portfolio that is floored and irrespective of what rates to -- those rates will remain the same. If rates were to come down from where they currently are. So I think there is a little bit more pressure in net interest margin, as we look out in the calendar 2020 and I think that's reflective however the industry is at, but in our particular case, we think we have some floors that are in place that will mitigate to some degree that pressure and if the shape of the yield curve ends up steepening again that will help us as well as the industry. Kevin Swanson - Hovde Group Okay, thanks, that's helpful. And then maybe just finally, and you guys have put up some nice loan growth in the past couple of quarters, but provisioning was still on the -- on the negative side, just kind of curious how you see credit costs going forward? Thanks. Craig G. Blunden - Provident Financial Holdings, Inc. Well, we will credit quality is very good right now for the industry in general and for us specifically credit quality is excellent and it's very difficult to see continued improvement from these very good levels but we think in the -- here because non-performers have come down. I suppose non-performance could go to zero and that would help, but we also have migration out of higher risk or higher factor loans into lower factor loans. So to the extent that we have growth in the balance sheet and loan growth would suggest that we would be provisioning for that growth that's not necessarily the case because we have migration within the different portfolios in our loans and as a result of that we might be freeing up our provisions or allowance in one category that works to the advantage of growth in another category. And then additionally we keep recovering each and every quarter, it seems a small amount which is also providing an increase to the allowance without running through the income statement. So we think credit quality is very good, our outlook for credit quality remains very good. I think as we think about 2020, the higher of the growth rate in the portfolio. Yes, potentially we could be providing, but maybe not in an amount that one would think because we also have rotation in our portfolios from higher factor, higher risk to lower risk. Kevin Swanson - Hovde Group Great, thanks guys. Appreciate the time. Craig G. Blunden - Provident Financial Holdings, Inc. Thank you. Operator - Thank you. Next question is from the line, one moment, please -- from the line of Tim Coffey of Janney. Please go ahead. Mr. Coffey, your line is open sir. Tim Coffey - Janney Montgomery Scott Can you hear me now. Operator - Yes. Tim Coffey - Janney Montgomery Scott Okay, great. Good morning, gentleman. Craig G. Blunden - Provident Financial Holdings, Inc. Good morning. Tim. Tim Coffey - Janney Montgomery Scott So the, what do you, -- I mean -- I appreciate the commentary on the forward-looking expenses. As -- the expenses as a percentage of earning assets or rather average assets we're in the 4% range when you have the mortgage business, these last two quarters they have been in the high 2% range, given your expectations for balance sheet growth would you -- could you see that ratio come in below 2.5% in the next four quarters? Craig G. Blunden - Provident Financial Holdings, Inc. Well, it depends upon the rate of growth and the number that you saw in the December quarter for instance, even though we had very good origination in purchase numbers, at the same time we have loan payoffs, the highest in -- quite a few quarters, that was $65.2 million. So the growth rate was tempered significantly as a result of those payoffs and because of that, it's very difficult to understand. Even though we're ginning up pretty nice growth rate, if those payoffs continue to be elevated, we're not going to see the growth rate that we would like to see. And frankly, we're churning a little bit with respect to portfolio growth. So the answer is yes, we can see operating expenses come in from where they currently are as a percentage of total assets, but that's going to be dictated by the growth rate that we can gin up in our loan portfolios. Tim Coffey - Janney Montgomery Scott Okay, I understand. Thank you. Given that rates have started to come down again, and understanding that, and obviously the impact on payoffs, but does this provide you an opportunity to remix your deposit book? Craig G. Blunden - Provident Financial Holdings, Inc. I'm not sure that it gives us that opportunity, because all the way through the rising rate cycle we essentially didn't change our deposit rates and our deposit costs held very steady through the cycle. So now as rates come down on the short end, well, our deposit costs aren't really going to come down. Now the opportunity that is there for us is funding earning asset growth. So one of the things that was occurring when rates were rising were CD specials and the like, by competitors who needed to fund their balance sheets, we weren't in that position at that time. We may be in that position now because we want to grow balance sheet and so we would have an opportunity perhaps to put CDs on our books, a little bit higher rate than what our existing deposit costs are, but in a lower rate environment so that the absolute cost probably doesn't go up like we saw when rates were rising. Tim Coffey - Janney Montgomery Scott Okay. And then is the competition -- your view of the competition for loans in the current rate environment, is that kind of where it's been in previous cycles or we have seen loan rates, we have seen that increased competition? Craig G. Blunden - Provident Financial Holdings, Inc. Yeah, this has been competitively speaking, this has been very difficult both on the loan side and the deposit side. It's -- this extended cycle, economic cycle has put pressure on both sides of the balance sheet. We don't see that that change is anytime soon, in fact, it could get a little bit worse as we think about lower interest rates and lower mortgage rates. So we're kind of in that environment again right now and I think as a result of that, there are many borrowers who are looking to refinance and our book of business is not going to be immune to that refinance activity, which I think generally speaking is kind of an industry dynamic. Tim Coffey - Janney Montgomery Scott Okay, great. Those are all my questions. Thank you very much. Craig G. Blunden - Provident Financial Holdings, Inc. Thanks, Tim. Operator - [Operator Instructions] All right, we have no further questions in queue at this time. Craig G. Blunden - Provident Financial Holdings, Inc. All right, well in that case, I now thank everyone for being on our call and we look forward to speaking with you next quarter. Thank you. Operator - Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, this conference call will be available for replay and that's starting today at noon Pacific Time and will run through February 4th, midnight. You may dial the AT&T replay system by dialing 1-866-207-1041 and entering access code 2689092. International participants may dial 402-970-0847 and again that access code 2689092. And that does conclude your conference, we do thank you for joining. You may now disconnect. Have a good day.