Westfield Financial, Inc. (the “Company”) (NasdaqGS:WFD), the holding company for Westfield Bank (the “Bank”), reported net income of $2.3 million, or $0.09 per diluted share, for the quarter ended March 31, 2012, compared to $1.3 million, or $0.05 per diluted share, for the same period in 2011.
The increase in earnings for the quarter ended March 31, 2012 was the result of a $1.6 million increase in the net gain on the sales of securities, compared to the same period in 2011. With mortgage rates declining to new lows, the Company experienced a high level of prepayment activity in its mortgage-backed securities, which negatively affected the yield of the portfolio. In an effort to improve portfolio performance, management sold certain mortgage-backed securities that were prepaying rapidly and were expected to continue to prepay. Rather than receive principal payments at par value, the mortgage-backed securities were sold at a net gain, which created greater economic value for the Company.
The provision for loan losses was $220,000 for the three months ended March 31, 2012, compared to $339,000 for the same period in 2011. The decrease in the provision for loan losses was due to a decrease in loan charge-offs and positive trends in the national and local economy.
Net interest income decreased $230,000 to $7.4 million for the three months ended March 31, 2012, compared to $7.6 million for the same period in 2011. The net interest margin, on a tax-equivalent basis, was 2.55% for the three months ended March 31, 2012 compared to 2.72% for the same period in 2011. The decrease in the net interest margin was due to the yield on interest-earning assets decreasing 36 basis points as a result of the low interest rate environment. This was primarily due to a decrease in the yield on securities as a result of accelerated premium amortization and cash flows from pay downs being reinvested in products having a lower yield, which is reflective of the current market rate environment.