Fulton Financial (FULT)

Q2 2011 Earnings Call

July 20, 2011 10:00 am ET

Executives

R. Smith - Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, Member of Executive Committee and Ex-officio Member of Risk Management Committee

Charles Nugent - Chief Financial Officer and Senior Executive Vice President

E. Wenger - President, Chief Operating Officer, Director, Member of Executive Committee and Ex-officio Member of Risk Management Committee

Laura Wakeley - Media Contact

Analysts

Eric Beardsley - Barclays Capital

Craig Siegenthaler - Crédit Suisse AG

Collyn Gilbert - Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., Inc.

Frank Schiraldi - Sandler O'Neill + Partners, L.P.

Richard Weiss - Janney Montgomery Scott LLC

Mike Shafir - Sterne Agee & Leach Inc.

Matthew Clark - Keefe, Bruyette, & Woods, Inc.

Bob Ramsey - FBR Capital Markets & Co.

Unknown Analyst -

Mac Hodgson - SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc.

Presentation

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Fulton Financial Corporation's Second Quarter Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference call is being recorded. I would now like to introduce your host for today's conference, Laura Wakeley, Senior Vice President.

Laura Wakeley

Thank you. Good morning, and thank you all for joining us for Fulton Financial Corporation's conference call and webcast to discuss our earnings for the second quarter of 2011. Your host for today's conference call is Scott Smith, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Fulton Financial. Joining him are Phil Wenger, President and Chief Operating Officer; and Charlie Nugent, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

Our comments today will refer to the financial information included with our earnings announcement which we released at 4:30 yesterday afternoon. These documents can be found on our website at fult.com by clicking on Investor Relations and then on News.

On this call, representatives of Fulton may make forward-looking statements with respect to Fulton's financial condition, results of operations and business. These forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors, some of which are beyond Fulton's control and difficult to predict and could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or forecasted in the forward-looking statements.

Fulton undertakes no obligation other than required by law to update or revise any forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future event or otherwise.

In our earnings release, we've included our Safe Harbor statement on forward-looking statements, and we refer you to that statement and as incorporated into this presentation. For a more complete discussion of certain risks and uncertainties affecting Fulton, please see the sections entitled Risk Factors and Management Discussion and Analysis of financial condition and results of operations set forth in Fulton's filings with the SEC.

Now, I'd like to turn the call over to your host, Scott Smith.

R. Smith

Thank you, Laura, and good morning, everyone. We're pleased you could join us. After some introductory remarks, I'll turn the call over to Phil Wenger and Charlie Nugent to discuss credit and financial details.

We had a good second quarter, reporting diluted net income of $0.18 per share, an increase of 6% over the first quarter, and we are encouraged by the improvement we've seen in a number of areas, and we'll discuss those this morning.

During this time of slower economic activity, a difficult regulatory climate and uncertainty about required capital levels going forward, we are focused on improving our earnings and return on assets.

In the release, you saw that we increased our ROA by 6 basis points to 0.91%, and we are committed to managing the assets we have available to us more efficiently and profitably.

Our team members share the same commitment to growing the company profitably and enhancing the value we create for customers and shareholders.

This is not to suggest that we'll be any less concerned about the profitable return on and deployment of our capital. However, until industry regulatory capital standards are better defined, ROE is difficult to meaningfully manage. And as you know, our capital position has always been and remains a strong.

On our last call, we said we would consider increasing our cash dividend as business conditions and our financial performance permit, and as the Board of Directors deems prudent. We were pleased to follow our $0.01 increase in April by the same amount again this quarter.

Our progress is also evident on our second quarter asset quality numbers, as Phil will discuss, we saw improvement in all our core credit metrics and while we still have a great deal of work ahead of us, it's very encouraging to see these across the board improvements.

We continue to aggressively pursue our new business development efforts with customers and prospects. These sales efforts have enabled us to grow existing relationships and attract new ones. As business and consumer confidence improves, we would expect our work to produce increased levels of new business.

Another development occurred during the second quarter was a further decrease in funding cost that helped us expand our net interest margin. As you would know, there are a lot of moving parts to this number and there can, of course, be economic as well as seasonal fluctuations. The key is that we continue to grow lower cost deposit balances, particularly, in the non-interest checking category. These are primary transaction accounts from customers and businesses that help us grow households and create new cross-selling opportunities.

We do not publish our specific household growth numbers for competitive reasons, however, we attribute our very strong year-over-year demand deposit growth, and more than 6% increase in small business accounts to aggressive segment management, calling efforts and promotional activity. All parts of our ongoing growth strategy.

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