On the day of its annual meeting, Suffolk Bancorp, the Riverhead holding company that owns Suffolk County National Bank, reported lower net income for the first quarter of the year compared to the same period last year.

In a press release, president and chief executive J. Gordon Huszagh blamed the economy for pushing quarterly net income to $5.2 million, an 8-percent decline from $5.7 million in the same quarter of 2009.

Still Huszagh notes that the bank is still in good shape and said much of the decline is because the bank has taken prudent steps to set aside more money to cover potential loan losses. Although the amount of loans that are behind has increased, he said Suffolk National still has a lower than average number of loans in arrears than than the national average.

At the annual shareholders meeting Tuesday, Huszagh emphasized steady performance in a time of turmoil and a policy of avoiding "swinging for the fences" to make a quick buck at the expense of relationships with customers.

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"We won't charge you $38 for a $3 cup of coffee," he said, a dig at some banks that allow customers to overdraw their accounts with debit cards and then charge them fees.
 
Huszagh said that although net income is down and bad loans are up, both are much better at Suffolk National than at most other banks. That's a sign that management should keep doing what it's been doing, he said.

"We like to say we stick to our knitting," he said.