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2 LI banks report healthy profit increases

The parent of the 35-branch First National Bank

The parent of the 35-branch First National Bank of Long Island saw a 15.6 percent profit increase in the second quarter over the 2011 period. Suffolk Bancorp reported profit growth of 27 percent. (July 25, 2012) Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

First of Long Island Corp. and Suffolk Bancorp Monday reported higher profits for the second quarter compared with a year earlier. Both set aside less money for bad loans.

First of Long Island, the Glen Head-based parent of the 35-branch First National Bank of Long Island, earned $5.4 million, or 60 cents a share, in the quarter, up 15.6 percent and 13.2 percent respectively. The bank said it made more loans, so net interest income increased but low interest rates reduced its net interest margin. The margin is the difference between the interest a bank earns on its assets such as loans and securities and the interest it pays out to depositors. "Most of the growth in loans occurred in residential and commercial mortgage loans," First of Long Island said, "with a smaller amount of growth in commercial and industrial loans."

The bank also attributed improved earnings to a decline in its provision for loan losses, from just over $1 million in the second quarter of last year to $623,000 in the quarter this year.

First of Long Island said it plans to open another branch, in Lindenhurst, later this year. The bank had total assets of $2 billion as of June 30. Its shares closed Monday on the Nasdaq Market at $29.01, down 60 cents -- near the high end of its 52-week range of $21.55 to $30.10.

Suffolk Bancorp, the Riverhead-based parent of the Suffolk County National Bank, said earnings were $4.2 million, or 43 cents a share, in this year's second quarter, up 27 percent and 26 percent respectively from a year earlier. The bank cited as major factors a 6 percent, or $891,000, decrease in operating expenses and a $5.6-million reduction in its provision for loan losses, the latter from $3.2 million to a credit of $2.4 million.

"I am extremely pleased with the progress we made during the second quarter in cleaning up our balance sheet," Suffolk Bancorp chief executive Howard Bluver said in a news release.

Bluver took over the reins at Suffolk Bancorp earlier this year -- after helping the company deal with a crisis as a consultant -- as the bank was facing a possible delisting by the Nasdaq for filing financial documents late.

Suffolk said the reduction in operating expenses was from lower consulting expenses this year and a one-time $1-million charge in the period a year earlier.

Suffolk Bancorp has 30 branches, all in Suffolk County, and assets of $1.6 billion. Its shares closed Monday on the Nasdaq at $12.59, up 23 cents -- near the high end of its 52-week range of $7.51 to $13.86.

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