We’ll have introductory remarks today from John Millman, President of Sterling Bancorp; and John Tietjen, Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer. After their remarks, we’ll be open to your questions. And so without further ado, I will turn the call over to Mr. Millman.

John C. Millman

Thank you Ed and good morning everyone. Welcome to our conference call for the 2012 first quarter. I’m pleased to report that we saw strong trends in virtually every key area of Sterling’s business during the first quarter, as we successfully executed our strategies to drive profitable growth.

Our accomplishments during the quarter included substantial increases in loans and deposits, higher total revenues or wider net interest margin, and well controlled expenses, while asset quality metrics remained sound. As a result of our progress in these areas, we started 2012 with a solid increase in net income. This clearly demonstrates the revenue and earnings power of our business model, the value of our franchise and the effectiveness of our customer service.

Our performance was a direct result of the strategies that we have been implementing for the past several quarters, as discussed on previous conference calls. Specifically, we have been actively engaged in growing our loan volume. We positioned our balance sheet for this expected increase in lending by maintaining a sizable pool of liquidity through our securities portfolio and other short-term assets.

The benefits of this strategy were clearly evident in the recent quarter, as we experienced robust credit demand. We have shifted our mix of earning assets into loans from investments, leading to an increase in yield.

At the same time, we have carefully managed the liability side of the balance sheet taking a disciplined approach to deposit pricing, while also increasing our level of non-interest bearing demand deposits, which led to a decrease in funding cost during the first quarter. These positive factors along with firm control of non-interest expenses in continued solid asset quality metrics powered our strong results.

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