ASHEVILLE, N.C., Oct. 29, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- HomeTrust Bancshares, Inc. (Nasdaq:HTBI) (Company), the holding company of HomeTrust Bank, today announced preliminary net income of $3.3 million for the first quarter of fiscal year 2014, compared to $1.2 million for the same period a year ago. The increase in net income for the first quarter of fiscal 2014 was primarily a result of a $2.3 million recovery from the allowance for loan losses and a $1.5 million decline in non-interest expense, including a $906,000 decrease in real estate owned ("REO")-related expenses. The increase in net income was partially offset by a $2.8 million increase in income tax expense, which includes a nonrecurring $962,000 charge related to the decline in value of our deferred tax assets based on recent decreases in North Carolina's state corporate tax rates. On a basic and diluted per share basis, the Company earned $0.17 per share in the first quarter of fiscal 2014, compared to $0.06 per share in the first quarter of fiscal 2013. "First quarter earnings performance was primarily a result of a $3.8 million improvement in our loan loss provision reflecting ongoing stabilization in the economy and increased real estate values in our market areas," remarked President and Co-CEO, Dana Stonestreet. "We continue to experience a downward trend in net loan chargeoffs. Additionally, we realized a $271,000 gain on the sale of real estate owned during the quarter. We were also pleased to welcome the customers of BankGreenville to HomeTrust Bank during the recent quarter as we entered the Greenville, SC market in July. We intend to continue to prudently manage our capital to seek growth opportunities while providing liquidity to our stockholders through our second stock repurchase program, which commenced in August 2013." Income Statement Review Net interest income was $13.3 million for the three months ended September 30, 2013 compared to $13.5 million for the three months ended September 30, 2012. The $222,000, or 1.6%, decrease was primarily due to declines in interest income of $885,000 outpacing a decrease in interest expense of $663,000. The net interest margin (on a fully taxable-equivalent basis) for the three months ended September 30, 2013 decreased five basis points over the same period last year to 3.74%, primarily due to a 23 basis point decline in the yield on interest-earning assets (on a fully taxable-equivalent basis) to 4.15%, partially offset by a 21 basis point decline in the rate paid on interest-bearing liabilities to 0.54% for the three months ended September 30, 2013.