MIDLAND PARK, N.J., Feb. 23, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Stewardship Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:SSFN), parent company of Atlantic Stewardship Bank, today reported results for the fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2016.  For the three months ended December 31, 2016, the Corporation reported net income available to common shareholders of $1.3 million, or $0.22 per diluted common share, compared with $1.1 million, or $0.17 per diluted common share, for the three months ended December 31, 2015.  Net income available to common shareholders for the year ended December 31, 2016, of $4.7 million, or $0.78 per diluted common share, represented a 26% increase over the $3.7 million, or $0.62 per diluted common share, earned for the year ended December 31, 2015.

In commenting on the performance, Paul Van Ostenbridge, Stewardship Financial Corporation's President and Chief Executive Officer, stated, "We are proud to demonstrate our continuing ability to improve earnings.  Specifically, for 2016, we achieved 14.7% of growth in our loan portfolio while keeping expenses relatively flat."

Balance Sheet / Financial Condition Total assets of $795.5 million at December 31, 2016 reflected an increase when compared with $717.9 million of assets at December 31, 2015.  Since December 31, 2015, a $77.6 million increase in gross loans receivable was the result of new loan originations net of normal principal amortization and payoffs.  "We are encouraged by the momentum resulting from robust loan production in 2016 but remain vigilant to ensure that loans meet our prudent underwriting standards," Van Ostenbridge stated.

Deposit balances totaled $658.9 million at December 31, 2016, compared with $604.8 million a year earlier reflecting $54.2 million, or 9.0%, in growth.  In addition, in order to fund loan growth and manage interest rate risk, other borrowings increased $19.2 million to $59.2 million at December 31, 2016.  Van Ostenbridge noted, "The combination of the increase in deposits as well as the appropriate use of low-cost borrowings is important to our ability to cost-effectively fund the growth we experienced in our loan portfolio." 

Regulatory capital levels at December 31, 2016, continue to remain strong, with a Tier 1 leverage ratio of 7.65% and total risk based capital ratio of 13.10%, far exceeding the regulatory requirements of 4% and 8%, respectively, to be considered a "well capitalized" institution.

Operating ResultsNet interest income of $5.9 million and $22.6 million was reported for the three months and year ended December 31, 2016, respectively, compared with $5.4 million and $21.8 million for the same periods in 2015.  The net interest margin was 3.18% for both the current three months and year ended December 31, 2016, compared with 3.18% and 3.30% for the three months and year ended December 31, 2015, respectively.  In general, the net interest rate spread and net interest margin for the current year periods reflect an overall decline in loan interest rates - a result of the historically low market rates in the current environment.  The current year net interest income and margin includes the impact of the $16.6 million of Subordinated Notes issued in August 2015 and the subsequent redemption of preferred stock.  When compared with the year ended December 31, 2015, the cost of the Subordinated Notes added a total of $781,000 of interest expense to the current year.  However, such increase, on an after-tax basis, is less than the dividends that would have accrued on the preferred stock.  The rate on the preferred stock would have been 4.56% until March 1, 2016, when the dividend rate on the preferred stock would have increased and become fixed at 9%.

For the three months ended December 31, 2016, the Corporation reported noninterest income of $937,000 compared with $855,000 for the equivalent prior year period.  Noninterest income for the year ended December 31, 2016, was $3.4 million compared with $3.5 million for 2015.  The year ended December 31, 2016, included a $44,000 increase in income due to the purchase of an additional $2.0 million of bank owned life insurance.  In addition, gain on sales of mortgage loans were $164,000 for the year ended December 31, 2016, compared with gains of $141,000 realized in the prior year.  Offsetting these increases, was a $106,000 decrease for the year ended December 31, 2016, due to the fact that noninterest income included only $63,000 of gains on calls and sales of securities, which is below the $169,000 recognized in the prior year.  In addition, the year ended December 31, 2016, included only $36,000 of gains on sales of OREO compared with $83,000 of gains during the year ended December 31, 2015.

Noninterest expenses for the three months and year ended December 31, 2016 totaled $5.0 million and $19.9 million, respectively, relatively consistent with the $4.9 million and $20.2 million incurred for the comparable prior year periods.  The Corporation continues to appropriately control expenses.  Increases in various expenses were offset by decreases in other expenses.  A decrease in occupancy expense is partially attributable to the consolidation of two branches in Hawthorne, NJ.  A decrease in OREO expense is directly related to the decline in foreclosures and OREO properties.  An increase in miscellaneous expense is reflective of higher audit and consulting expenses.

Asset QualityBoth the current year and the prior year period results were positively impacted by the Corporation recording negative provisions for loan losses, reflective of the ongoing analysis that demonstrates constant improvement of credit quality.  Results for the three months and year ended December 31, 2016 included negative provisions of $300,000 and $1.4 million, respectively, compared with negative provisions for loan losses of $275,000 and $1.4 million for the comparable prior year periods.  The recording of negative provisions for loan losses and the decline in the allowance coverage ratio are directly attributable to improved credit quality metrics of the portfolio and the reduction in the estimated level of allowance for loan losses required.  Nonperforming loans continue to decline and were just $606,000, or 0.10% of total loans at December 31, 2016, compared with $1.9 million, or 0.36%, at December 31, 2015.  Total nonperforming assets of $1.0 million, which includes other real estate owned, also showed continued improvement and represented just 0.13% of total assets at December 31, 2016, compared with 0.38% at December 31, 2015.  The allowance for loan losses represented 1.31% of total gross loans at December 31, 2016, compared with 1.68% a year earlier.

In general, Van Ostenbridge concluded, "While we remain conservative with respect to managing risks, we are progressive in adapting to the needs of an evolving customer base.  We believe in our efforts to build relationships and continue our focus on being a community-oriented / customer focused financial institution."

About Stewardship Financial CorporationStewardship Financial Corporation's subsidiary, Atlantic Stewardship Bank, has 11 banking offices in Midland Park, Hawthorne, Montville, North Haledon, Pequannock, Ridgewood, Waldwick, Wayne (2), Westwood and Wyckoff, NJ.  The Bank is known for tithing 10% of its pre-tax profits to Christian and local charities.  To date, the Bank's tithe donations total $8.8 million.

We invite you to visit our website at www.asbnow.com for additional information.

The information disclosed in this document contains certain "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, and may be identified by the use of such words as "believe," "expect," "anticipate," "should," "plan," "estimate," and "potential."  Examples of forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, estimates with respect to the financial condition, results of operations and business of the Corporation that are subject to various factors which could cause actual results to differ materially from these estimates.  These factors include changes in general, economic and market conditions, legislative and regulatory conditions, or the development of an interest rate environment that adversely affects the Corporation's interest rate spread or other income anticipated from operations and investments.
 
Stewardship Financial Corporation
Selected Consolidated Financial Information
(dollars in thousands, except per share amounts)
(unaudited)
 
  December 31,   September 30,   June 30,   March 31,   December 31,
  2016   2016   2016   2016   2015
                   
Selected Financial Condition Data:                  
Cash and cash equivalents $ 11,680     $ 21,025     $ 13,901     $ 13,319     $ 10,910  
Securities available for sale 98,583     103,546     98,533     97,637     93,354  
Securities held to maturity 52,330     54,179     65,666     62,427     60,738  
FHLB Stock 3,515     2,425     2,650     2,608     2,608  
Loans held for sale 773     300     581     783     1,522  
Loans receivable:                  
Loans receivable, gross 604,083     552,106     537,638     528,011     526,477  
Allowance for loan losses (7,905 )   (8,150 )   (8,388 )   (8,540 )   (8,823 )
Other, net (226 )   (110 )   (25 )   (64 )   (98 )
Loans receivable, net 595,952     543,846     529,225     519,407     517,556  
Other real estate owned, net 401     834     834     1,013     880  
Bank owned life insurance 16,558     16,439     16,320     14,212     14,111  
Other assets 15,743     15,333     14,877     15,251     16,209  
Total assets $ 795,535     $ 757,927     $ 742,587     $ 726,657     $ 717,888  
                   
Non-interest bearing deposits $ 169,306     $ 172,072     $ 160,461     $ 154,201     $ 147,828  
Interest-bearing deposits 489,624     474,012     466,008     458,225     456,925  
Total deposits 658,930     646,084     626,469     612,426     604,753  
Other borrowings 59,200     35,000     40,000     40,000     40,000  
Subordinated debentures and subordinated notes 23,252     23,235     23,219     23,203     23,186  
Other liabilities 2,766     2,040     2,213     1,836     2,376  
Total liabilities 744,148     706,359     691,901     677,465     670,315  
Shareholders' equity 51,387     51,568     50,686     49,192     47,573  
Total liabilities and shareholders' equity $ 795,535     $ 757,927     $ 742,587     $ 726,657     $ 717,888  
                   
Gross loans to deposits 91.68 %   85.45 %   85.82 %   86.22 %   87.06 %
                                       
Equity to assets 6.46 %   6.80 %   6.83 %   6.77 %   6.63 %
                                       
Book value per share $ 8.39     $ 8.43     $ 8.29     $ 8.05     $ 7.82  
                                       
Asset Quality Data:                                      
Nonaccrual loans $ 606     $ 929     $ 949     $ 2,304     $ 1,882  
Loans past due 90 days or more and accruing                  
Total nonperforming loans 606     929     949     2,304     1,882  
Other real estate owned 401     834     834     1,013     880  
Total nonperforming assets $ 1,007     $ 1,763     $ 1,783     $ 3,317     $ 2,762  
                                       
Nonperforming loans to total loans 0.10 %   0.17 %   0.18 %   0.44 %   0.36 %
Nonperforming assets to total assets 0.13 %   0.23 %   0.24 %   0.46 %   0.38 %
Allowance for loan losses to gross loans 1.31 %   1.48 %   1.56 %   1.62 %   1.68 %

Stewardship Financial Corporation
Selected Consolidated Financial Information
(dollars in thousands, except per share amounts)
(unaudited)
 
  For the three months ended December 31,   For the year ended December 31,
  2016   2015   2016   2015
               
Selected Operating Data:              
Interest income $ 7,000     $ 6,643     $ 27,085     $ 25,609  
Interest expense 1,103     1,198     4,513     3,826  
Net interest income 5,897     5,445     22,572     21,783  
Provision for loan losses (300 )   (275 )   (1,350 )   (1,375 )
Net interest income after provision for loan losses 6,197     5,720     23,922     23,158  
Noninterest income:              
Fees and service charges 564     558     2,159     2,135  
Bank owned life insurance 119     103     447     403  
Gain on calls and sales of securities 1     17     63     169  
Gain on sales of mortgage loans 94     24     164     141  
Gain on sales of other real estate owned 30     30     36     83  
Other 129     123     542     562  
Total noninterest income 937     855     3,411     3,493  
Noninterest expenses:              
Salaries and employment benefits 2,735     2,719     10,980     10,900  
Occupancy, net 396     422     1,598     1,739  
Equipment 156     159     609     655  
Data processing 481     467     1,915     1,847  
FDIC insurance premium 21     106     317     423  
Other 1,213     1,027     4,483     4,615  
Total noninterest expenses 5,002     4,900     19,902     20,179  
Income before income tax expense 2,132     1,675     7,431     6,472  
Income tax expense 784     614     2,695     2,272  
Net income 1,348     1,061     4,736     4,200  
Dividends on preferred stock             456  
Net income available to common shareholders $ 1,348     $ 1,061     $ 4,736     $ 3,744  
               
Weighted avg. no. of diluted common shares 6,119,693     6,086,249     6,109,983     6,077,657  
Diluted earnings per common share $ 0.22     $ 0.17     $ 0.78     $ 0.62  
               
Return on average common equity 10.40 %   8.89 %   9.43 %   8.14 %
                               
Return on average assets 0.69 %   0.58 %   0.63 %   0.60 %
                               
Yield on average interest-earning assets 3.77 %   3.87 %   3.81 %   3.87 %
Cost of average interest-bearing liabilities 0.80 %   0.92 %   0.85 %   0.77 %
Net interest rate spread 2.97 %   2.95 %   2.96 %   3.10 %
                               
Net interest margin 3.18 %   3.18 %   3.18 %   3.30 %

Stewardship Financial Corporation
Selected Consolidated Financial Information
(dollars in thousands, except per share amounts)
(unaudited)
 
  For the three months ended
  December 31,   September 30,   June 30,   March 31,   December 31,
  2016   2016   2016   2016   2015
                   
Selected Operating Data:                  
Interest income $ 7,000     $ 6,657     $ 6,979     $ 6,449     $ 6,643  
Interest expense 1,103     1,113     1,124     1,173     1,198  
Net interest income 5,897     5,544     5,855     5,276     5,445  
Provision for loan losses (300 )   (250 )   (450 )   (350 )   (275 )
Net interest income after provision for loan losses 6,197     5,794     6,305     5,626     5,720  
Noninterest income:                  
Fees and service charges 564     536     530     529     558  
Bank owned life insurance 119     120     107     101     103  
Gain on calls and sales of securities 1     6     32     24     17  
Gain on sales of mortgage loans 94     33     19     18     24  
Gain on sales of other real estate owned 30         6         30  
Other 129     128     138     147     123  
Total noninterest income 937     823     832     819     855  
Noninterest expenses:                  
Salaries and employment benefits 2,735     2,788     2,742     2,715     2,719  
Occupancy, net 396     400     404     398     422  
Equipment 156     155     148     150     159  
Data processing 481     485     477     472     467  
FDIC insurance premium 21     100     90     106     106  
Other 1,213     1,071     1,138     1,061     1,027  
Total noninterest expenses 5,002     4,999     4,999     4,902     4,900  
Income before income tax expense 2,132     1,618     2,138     1,543     1,675  
Income tax expense 784     583     776     552     614  
Net income $ 1,348     $ 1,035     $ 1,362     $ 991     $ 1,061  
                   
Weighted avg. no. of diluted common shares 6,119,693     6,115,987     6,111,729     6,092,351     6,086,249  
Diluted earnings per common share $ 0.22     $ 0.17     $ 0.22     $ 0.16     $ 0.17  
                   
Return on average common equity 10.40 %   8.06 %   11.05 %   8.21 %   8.89 %
                                       
Return on average assets 0.69 %   0.54 %   0.74 %   0.55 %   0.58 %
                                       
Yield on average interest-earning assets 3.77 %   3.68 %   4.02 %   3.79 %   3.87 %
Cost of average interest-bearing liabilities 0.80 %   0.83 %   0.86 %   0.90 %   0.92 %
Net interest rate spread 2.97 %   2.85 %   3.16 %   2.89 %   2.95 %
                                       
Net interest margin 3.18 %   3.07 %   3.38 %   3.11 %   3.18 %

Contact:Claire M. ChadwickEVP and Chief Financial Officer630 Godwin AvenueMidland Park, NJ 07432P: 201-444-7100

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