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Banner Corporation's Net Income Totals $11.6 Million, Or $0.60 Per Diluted Share, In First Quarter; Net Income Highlighted By Strong Revenue Generation And Further Improved Credit Quality

WALLA WALLA, Wash., April 22, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Banner Corporation (Nasdaq:BANR), the parent company of Banner Bank and Islanders Bank, today reported net income available to common shareholders of $11.6 million, or $0.60 per diluted share, in the first quarter of 2013, compared to $7.2 million, or $0.40 per diluted share, in the first quarter a year ago. Banner's net income available to common shareholders was $13.3 million, or $0.69 per diluted share, in the quarter ended December 31, 2012.

"We are pleased with our first quarter performance and with the continuation of the successful execution of our strategies and priorities to deliver sustainable profitability to Banner," said Mark J. Grescovich, President and Chief Executive Officer. "Our further improvement in asset quality, strong revenue generation and additional client acquisition demonstrate that through the hard work of our employees, Banner's super community bank strategy is working. This marks the fourteenth consecutive quarter that we have achieved a year-over-year increase in revenues from core operations* (net interest income before provision for loan losses plus total other operating income excluding gain on the sale of securities, other-than-temporary impairment recovery and fair value adjustments). Although the Banking Industry faces the continuing challenges of a low interest rate environment and modest economic growth, Banner is well positioned to meet this challenging environment because of our strong balance sheet, much improved operations and well received and acknowledged client value proposition."

"An additional highlight from the first quarter is that we meaningfully increased our dividend," Grescovich added. "The regular quarterly cash dividend was increased to $0.12 per share from $0.01 per share, which reflects our strong performance and our expectation of continued success in 2013."

First Quarter 2013 Highlights (compared to first quarter 2012, except as noted)
  • Net income available to common shareholders was $11.6 million, compared to $7.2 million for the first quarter a year ago.
  • Return on average assets was 1.11% compared to 0.88% for the first quarter a year ago.
  • Revenues from core operations* totaled $50.9 million compared to $50.4 million for the first quarter a year ago.
  • Net interest margin was 4.16%, compared to 4.13% for the preceding quarter and 4.15% for the first quarter a year ago.
  • Deposit fees and other service charges increased 7%.
  • Revenues from mortgage banking increased 15%.
  • Non-performing assets decreased to $44.9 million, or 1.06% of total assets, at March 31, 2013, an 11% decrease compared to three months earlier and a 52% decrease compared to a year earlier.
  • Non-performing loans decreased to $33.4 million at March 31, 2013, a 3% decrease compared to three months earlier and a 49% decrease compared to a year earlier.
  • The ratio of tangible common equity to tangible assets increased to 12.10% at March 31, 2013.*
  • Banner increased its regular quarterly cash dividend to $0.12 per share.

*Earnings information excluding gain on sale of securities, fair value and other-than-temporary impairment (OTTI) adjustments (alternately referred to as other operating income from core operations or revenues from core operations) and the ratio of tangible common equity (which excludes other intangible assets and preferred stock) to tangible assets represent non-GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) financial measures. Management has presented these non-GAAP financial measures in this earnings release because it believes that they provide useful and comparative information to assess trends in Banner's core operations reflected in the current quarter's results and facilitate the comparison of our performance with the performance of our peers. Where applicable, comparable earnings information using GAAP financial measures is also presented.

Income Statement Review

"Our net interest margin expansion compared to both the preceding quarter and the first quarter a year ago reflects important reductions in deposit and other funding costs, as well as a further reduction in the adverse effect of non-performing assets and a favorable change in the mix of interest-earning assets," said Grescovich. "However, the continuing impact of exceptionally low market interest rates is evident in declining loan and securities yields." Banner's net interest margin was 4.16% in the first quarter of 2013, compared to 4.13% in the preceding quarter and 4.15% in the first quarter a year ago. 

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