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Community Bank System Reports Solid Fourth Quarter And Full Year Operating Results

Community Bank System, Inc. (NYSE: CBU) reported fourth quarter 2012 net income of $18.8 million, or $0.47 per share, compared with $19.0 million, or $0.51 per share reported for the fourth quarter of 2011. Current quarter results included $0.5 million of acquisition-related expenses and a $2.5 million litigation settlement charge, or $0.05 per share. The Company reported full year earnings of $77.1 million in 2012, an increase of 5.4% over the year ended December 31, 2011.

“Our fourth quarter and full year operating performance continued to be at very favorable levels and was characterized by solid revenue growth, strong organic loan generation, a continuation of our stable and favorable asset quality profile, and the successful completion of the branch acquisitions announced earlier in the year,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Mark E. Tryniski. “We continue to focus on building additional value into our enterprise through selective acquisitions, disciplined lending and a consistent approach to business regardless of economic conditions. In September, we increased our quarterly dividend to $0.27 per share, or 3.8% higher, marking the twentieth consecutive year of dividend increases for the Company. We believe that this demonstrates the Company’s commitment to the payment of a meaningful and growing dividend as an important component of providing consistent and favorable long-term returns to our shareholders.”

Total revenue for the fourth quarter of 2012 was $86.2 million, an increase of $8.7 million, or 11.2%, compared to the prior year fourth quarter. Net interest income increased 8.8% from the prior year quarter to $60.0 million, the result of an $897 million increase in average interest-earning assets, comprised of an additional $536 million of investment securities (including cash equivalents) and a $361 million increase in average loans, from both organic and acquired sources. On a linked quarter basis, ending loans grew $53.1 million, and consistent with the first three quarters of 2012, primarily in residential mortgage and consumer installment products. Although quarterly net interest income was up 8.8% over the fourth quarter of 2011, the completion of the branch acquisitions (and its associated net liquidity characteristics) in the third quarter of 2012 contributed to a reduction in the Company’s net interest margin from 4.06% in the fourth quarter of 2011 to 3.83% in the current quarter, as expected. The fourth quarter’s net interest income included the receipt of the Company’s semi-annual dividend from the Federal Reserve Bank as well as certain loan-related fees which combined added approximately four basis points to the quarterly net interest margin. On a full year basis the Company’s net interest income increased $21.0 million, or 10.0%, in 2012, a product of 15.4% growth in interest-earning assets partially offset by a 19 basis-point decline in the net interest margin.

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