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

Financial Position

Average earning assets for the fourth quarter were $6.67 billion, an increase of $39.0 million compared to third quarter of 2012, and up $897.3 million over the fourth quarter of 2011. Ending loans increased $394.6 million year-over-year, reflecting strong organic growth from consumer mortgage and installment products and loans from the acquired branches. Average investment securities (including cash equivalents) of $2.83 billion for the fourth quarter were down 3.0% from the third quarter, reflective of contractual cash flows. Average deposits increased $167.0 million, or 3.1%, compared to the third quarter of 2012, and were up $835.9 million from the fourth quarter of 2011, principally from the branch transactions. Quarter-end borrowings were $830.1 million, consistent with both the end of the third quarter of 2012 and the end of last year.

Year-end shareholders’ equity of $902.8 million was $128.2 million, or 16.6%, higher than December 31, 2011. The year-over-year increase was driven by the January 2012 issuance of 2.1 million additional shares in support of the Company’s branch acquisitions completed in the third quarter, appreciation in the available-for-sale investment portfolio, and continued solid growth in retained earnings due to record levels of net income generation. Despite the completion of the branch acquisitions in the third quarter, the Company continued to strengthen its capital position as was evidenced by the 50 basis-point increase in the net tangible equity to net tangible assets ratio from the end of 2011.

Asset Quality

The Company’s asset quality metrics continue to be markedly better than comparative peer and industry averages and illustrate the long-term effectiveness of the Company’s disciplined risk management and underwriting standards. Net charge-offs were $2.6 million for the fourth quarter, compared to $1.7 million for the third quarter of 2012 and $1.8 million for fourth quarter of 2011. Nonperforming loans as a percentage of total loans at December 31, 2012 were 0.75%, down from the 0.81% at September 30, 2012, and down from 0.90% of total loans at the end of last year. The total delinquency ratio of 1.92% at the end of the fourth quarter was up 13 basis points from the end of the third quarter 2012, but 13 basis points lower than the 2.05% level at December 31, 2011. The fourth quarter provision for loan losses of $2.7 million was consistent with the third quarter and $1.1 million higher than the fourth quarter of last year. The allowance for loan losses to nonperforming loans was 148% at December 31, 2012, compared to 139% at September 30, 2012, and 135% as of December 31, 2011.

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