Akron-based FirstMerit Corp. on Tuesday reported increases in both its fourth quarter and 2012 year-end results.
For the fourth quarter, the bank said its earnings rose 25.2 percent to $38.2 million, or 35 cents per share. That was up from $30.5 million, or 28 cents per share, during the same time a year ago.
For the year, the bank said net income rose 12.1 percent to $134.1 million, or $1.22 per share, compared to $119.6 million, or $1.10 per share, a year ago.
It was the 55th consecutive quarter of profitability, the bank said.
“Our ongoing commitment to sound banking fundamentals is reflected in our strong fourth-quarter results. While the low interest rate environment and slow economic recovery continue to challenge the banking industry, I am pleased to report that FirstMerit again performed well and grew our business,” said Paul Greig, FirstMerit president, chief executive officer and chairman, in a prepared statement.
The bank is continuing the process of its acquisition of Citizens Republic Bancorp of Michigan, with 291 offices in Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. The bank still expects the transaction to close in the second quarter, Greig said during a conference call with analysts.
If the deal goes through, the bank would be the sixth largest in the Midwest, officials have said.
FirstMerit currently employs 2,724 and has 196 banking offices and 203 ATM locations in Ohio, Western Pennsylvania and the Chicago area. Citizens Republic is based in Flint, Mich.
Average loans for FirstMerit for the quarter increased $770.3 million, or 10.04 percent, compared to the same time a year ago.
Average commercial loans were up $551 million, or 10.91 percent, compared to a year ago.
Average deposits were $11.6 billion during the fourth quarter of 2012, an increase of $178.5 million or 1.56 percent compared to the same time a year ago.
Analyst Andrew Marquardt with Evercore Partners said in a report that overall, FirstMerit had “lower quality results than expected with revenue coming in below while credit costs were lower and expenses were about in line.” Marquardt did note that Citizens, which also reported earnings Tuesday, appeared worse than expected.
Citizens reported its fourth quarter profits at $17 million, or 42 cents per share, compared to $12.3 million, or 31 cents per share, a year ago.
For the full year, Citizens reported earnings of $347.9 million, or $8.61 per share, compared to a net loss of $16.3 million, or 41 cents a share, a year ago.
In the conference call, Greig said he was excited about the bank’s newest hire of Sandy Pierce as vice chairman of FirstMerit Corp. and chairman and CEO of FirstMerit Michigan, effective Feb. 1.
Pierce, who was Midwest regional executive, president and CEO for Charter One Bank, Michigan, will be responsible for all of FirstMerit’s retail banking, wealth management services, corporate marketing and coordination of FirstMerit’s business activities in Michigan following the merger.
Asked whether other people would be hired in other markets where FirstMerit is growing, Greig said the company is adding talent as it becomes available in Chicago and will follow the same model in Michigan and Wisconsin.
Analysts also asked Greig if the bank would further expand in Chicago.
Greig said “filling out more in Chicago would be attractive for us, but we need to find the right candidate and haven’t found that yet to date.”
The bank’s focus now is on the proposed merger with Citizens, he said.
FirstMerit shares closed up 1.8 percent on Tuesday to finish at $15.42.