Seeking Alpha
We cover over 5K calls/quarter
Profile| Send Message|
( followers)  

Community Bank System, Inc. (NYSE:CBU)

Q2 2013 Earnings Conference Call

July 24, 2013 11:00 am ET

Executives

Mark E. Tryniski – President and Chief Executive Officer

Scott A. Kingsley – Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Analysts

David W. Darst – Guggenheim Securities LLC

Operator

Welcome to the Community Bank System Second Quarter Earnings Conference Call. This presentation contains forward-looking statements within the provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 that are based on current expectations, estimates and projections about the industry, markets and economic environment in which the company operates. Such statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from the results discussed in these statements. These risks are detailed in the company’s Annual Report and Form 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Today’s call presenters are Mark Tryniski, President and Chief Executive Officer; and Scott Kingsley, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Gentlemen, please begin.

Mark E. Tryniski

Thank you, Beth. Good morning and thank you all for joining our second quarter conference call. We are pleased with our operating performance of $0.52 per share in the second quarter as compared to both the prior year’s quarters and this year’s first quarter. If you recall the last year’s first and second quarters we pre-invested approximately $600 million of liquidity expected in the HSBC branch transaction without the related operating cost of the branches resulting in a temporary leverage benefit of $0.04 to $0.05 per share in last year’s second quarter.

We are pleased as well with the improvement in results from the $0.50 per share reported in Q1. The net interest margin was up and treasurable entirely to the deleveraging strategy we discussed last quarter which created more than $35 million in Tier-1 regulatory capital and which Scott will address further.

The most significant strength of the quarter was the record earnings performance by our wealth management and benefits administration businesses whose pre-tax earnings for the quarter were up more than 60% over last year. We are achieving significant good operating leverage in these businesses right now with revenues growing strongly and expenses flat or down. We will continue to grow and invest in these businesses as a core element of our operating strategy.

Loan growth was strong in the quarter which it needs to be given the seasonality of demand for us. Total loans were up $74 million or 8% annualized on the strength of mortgage lending and consumer installment lending. Lastly, as it relates to the second quarter, asset quality was exceptional with only eight basis points of charge-offs and banking fee income is up 12% over last year.

Overall it was a very good operating quarter for us in every respect. Beyond financial performance, we announced this morning the acquisition of eight branches from Bank of America located in Northeast Pennsylvania. The transaction consists of approximately $370 million of deposits and an insignificant amount of loans. The deposit premium was 2.39%; we will not need to raise capital. We have already pre-invested approximately $180 million of the expected proceeds of 2.64%. We expect the transaction to be 2% to 3% accretive and expect to close the deal in December.

With respect to the remainder of the year, we will continue to work hard across the company to offset the expected impact of margin pressure, which we hope is then modestly relived by the recent steepening of the yield curve. Our pipelines remained strong heading into the second quarter and we expect to continue to grow banking fee income and the revenues of our wealth management and benefits administration businesses. Our balance sheet is as strong as it’s ever been with record regulatory capital levels and tremendous core funding. We are well positioned to the second half of 2013 and beyond.

Scott?

Scott A. Kingsley

Thank you, Mark, and good morning, everyone. As Mark mentioned, our operating performance for the second quarter of 2013 remained very favorable. As a reminder, we completed the acquisition and conversion of 16 former HSBC branches and 3 First Niagara branches in the third quarter of last year. So the fourth quarter of 2012 was the first quarter where the various operating attributes of the transactions were fully reflected. In addition as Mark just mentioned late in the first quarter of last year, we initiated a liquidity pre-investment strategy deriving a meaningful portion of the branch transaction’s positive impact on net interest income in last year’s second quarter.

I’ll first discuss some balance sheet items. Average earning assets of $6.26 billion for the second quarter were down $51 million from last year’s second quarter and down 4.7% from the first quarter 2013 averages reflective of the balance sheet restructuring activities which we have previously described. Compared to the second quarter of 2012, average loans were up $387 million while average investments including cash equivalents were lower by $438 million.

Average deposits were up 16% or $767 million while average borrowings declined $824 million. All-in, we believe these are significant qualitative improvements to our balance sheet over the last 12 months.

Outstandings in our business lending portfolio were up slightly from the first quarter as contractual and other unscheduled principal reductions continued to offset productive new loan generation. In addition, line utilization characteristics remained stubbornly below historically norms.

Asset quality results in this portfolio continue to be stable and favorable to peers with net charge-offs of under 25 basis points over the last nine quarters. Our total consumer real estate portfolios of $1.87 billion comprised of $1.53 billion of consumer mortgages and $347 million of home equity instruments were up 2% from March from the continuation of solid organic generation.

We continue to retain in portfolio most of our mortgage production in the first half of 2013 and were able to productively add to our outstandings at blended yields of 4.05%. Asset quality results continue to be very favorable in these portfolios with total net charge-offs over the last nine quarters of $2.9 million or eight basis points of loss.

Our consumer indirect portfolio of $664 million was up $24 million or 3.8% from the end of the first quarter, consistent with seasonal expectations and regional demand characteristics. Used car valuations where the largest majority of our lending is concentrated, continue to be stable and favorable.

Net charge-offs for the last nine quarters were $2.9 million or 22 basis points of loss, which we consider exceptional. With our continued bias toward A and B paper grades and the very competitive market conditions in this asset class, yields have trended lower over the last several quarters. We have continued to report very favorable net charge-off results with second quarter 2013 results no exception.

Non-performing loans comprised of both legacy and acquired loans end in the second quarter at $24.4 million or 0.62% of the total loans. Our reserves for loan losses represent 1.19% of our legacy loans and 1.10% of total outstanding and based on the trailing four quarters results represent over six years of annual net charge-offs.

As of June 30, our investment portfolio stood at $2.37 billion and was comprised of $384 million of U.S. agency and agency backed mortgage obligations or 16% of the total, $676 million of municipal bonds or 29%, $1.23 billion of U.S. treasury securities or 52% of the total. The remaining 3% was incorporate in another debt securities including our holdings of pool trust preferred instruments, which continue to fully perform.

As of mentioned in our earnings release, we sold an additional $250 million or treasury securities in April and used a portion of the proceeds to extinguish an additional $135 million of FHLB borrowing bringing the total reduction in wholesale borrowing obligations in 2013 to $502 million. The net results of these balance sheet restructuring activities completed in the first half of 2013 were essentially neutral to the P&L and the total capital, neutral to slightly positive to future net interest income generation and effectively created over $35 million of Tier 1 regulatory capital.

With that, our capital levels in 2013 continue to be strong. The Tier 1 leverage ratio rose to 9.4% at quarter end a meaningful 103 basis points increase over year end 2012 and tangible equity to net tangible assets was 7.43%. Consistent with our first quarter discussion our tangible book value per share of $12.35 is down from the $13.72 per share level at the end of December 2012 and relates entirely to the decline in AOCI, nearly half of which we realized in the balance sheet restructuring activities completed this year. Excluding the effects of changes in AOCI, we have actually added nearly $53 million to capital over the past 12 months, primarily through consistently strong earnings results

Also, as I’ve mentioned before, consistent with regulatory instructions, our calculation of the Company’s tangible equity ratio includes adding back to both the numerator and the denominator $30 million of deferred tax liabilities associated with tax deductible goodwill created from several of our asset acquisitions, principally branch transactions. Exclusion of this differential would render our comparisons to peers in complete and since we recently this morning, announced another branch transaction, which will create additional tax deductible goodwill, I will keep mentioning it.

Shifting now to the income statement, our reported net interest margin for the second quarter was 3.98%, up 12 basis points from the first quarter of this year and 2 basis points above the second quarter of 2012. First half 2013, net interest margin has been positively impacted by the balance sheet restructuring activities as previously described. Proactive management of deposit funding costs continue to have a positive effect on margin results, but has not been able to fully offset declining asset yields.

Second quarter non-interest income was up 14.4% from last year’s second quarter. The company’s employee benefits administration and consulting businesses posted in 8.5% increase in revenues from new customer additions, favorable market conditions and growth from the company’s metro New York actuarial consulting businesses quartered at the end of 2011.

Our wealth management group generated a 30% revenue improvement from last year and included solid organic growth in trust and asset advisory services as well as benefiting from favorable market conditions. Compared to last year’s second quarter, the company generated $1.2 million increase in deposit service fees or 11.9% as the addition of new and acquired deposit relationships and solid growth in debit card related revenue more than offset the trend of lower utilization of overdraft protection programs.

Quarterly operating expenses of $54.4 million increased to $5.0 million or 10.1% over the second quarter of 2012 reflective of the recurring operating expenses of the branch acquisitions completed in last year’s third quarter. Second quarter operating expenses were modestly below the first quarter of 2013 as one additional payroll day was more than offset by seasonally lower payroll tax related expenses.

Occupancy expenses were down 4% linked quarter again as seasonally expected. Other operating expenses were 2.4% higher than the first quarter of 2013 and included higher marketing and business development cost. Our effective tax rate in the first half of 2013 was 29.2% versus 29.1% last year reflective of a consistent level of non-taxable income to total income in the two periods.

I’ll now turn it back over to Beth to open the line for questions.

Question-and-Answer Section

Operator

(Operator Instructions) Our first question is from David Darst [Guggenheim Securities]. Your line is live.

David W. Darst – Guggenheim Securities LLC

Hi, good morning.

Mark E. Tryniski

Good morning, David.

Scott A. Kingsley

Good morning, David.

David W. Darst – Guggenheim Securities LLC

How would you describe this expansion into Pennsylvania, is it strategic or are you looking this from a financial perspective and that you can capture some EPS accretion and its relatively small deal?

Scott A. Kingsley

It is relatively small deal for us. I would characterize David more as tactical in nature just because of the size of the transaction, I think it does improve our branch footprint in market density, in service capacity in Northeast Pennsylvania at the same time if you look at the risk reward profile, it was certainly very sensible for us to pursue it given the accretion opportunities and low risk nature of the transaction, but given its size, I would characterize it more as tactical than strategic.

David W. Darst – Guggenheim Securities LLC

Okay, so then overall your earning asset mix or loan mix is continuing to tilt towards the consumer with residential mortgage growth and in direct growth, and then obviously as you’re doing this your credit cost continue to trend lower, your returns overall are very high, but do you anticipate any commercial growth until that does happen, should we see your charge-offs and provision expense kind of stay where they are?

Scott A. Kingsley

I think from a demand perspective David in our markets, we do principally kind of small to mid-size business lending, we probably I would say have less of an appetite for what we consider to be more aggressive in higher risk commercial real estate opportunities, which if you look at our commercial portfolio compared to others, we have generally lower mix of commercial real estate, which is generally by design there has been certainly over the last handful years with the decline in residential mortgage rates that has created significantly greater demand and I think we’re seeing now with the back up in rates, the pipelines across the industry and I suspect in our markets as well will decline as it relates to refinancing which for us over the last couple of years I would say has run at half or maybe even slightly higher than half of our total demand.

So I think we look at I guess a broader context in terms of demand in the marketplace and the environment in the marketplace, we’ve been through an unprecedented level of refinancing which is going to slow down so I think you’ll see that mismatch if you will of demand that we’ve experienced over the last several years moderate a bit going forward. I suspect our commercial demand will likely always be somewhat less than our peers just because of the risk profile that we assume in terms of commercial lending. So we were up a few million bucks in the second quarter which is not significant.

We continue to see a lot of I think good opportunity in the market in terms of business lending, it certainly picked up a bit, it’s still a little bit slower than I think what other markets are experiencing, markets that we’re not in, other parts of the country. And we typically lag behind in terms of demand characteristics other markets across the country.

So I think we will see a modest pickup going forward in our marketplace to just organically but we’re seeing decent opportunities there the competitive environment is clearly heating up, you probably heard that from others in terms of certainly rates but also as well a bit on the structure side which is where we tend more to draw lines in the sand. So I think there has been a mismatch in demand in the last few years because of mortgage refinancing, I think you’re going to see that moderate going forward.

Mark E. Tryniski

David, I’ll also add to end your conversation. Certainly, if we could count eight basis points of loss as total charge-offs for any quarter, we would take that as long as we’re alive. But I would argue that we’re probably still best-in-class if that number is two times, three times or maybe four times that level and which can still be productive for us. The only thing I will stay back to the demand characteristic comment you made is that we still have very low line utilization levels and I think generally with our customers because they tend to be true C&I customers and less commercial real estate orientated, they’re likely to use their deposits for investments before they go back to their lines remembering their deposits today are effectively paying them zero.

So I do think that with us because of that mix characteristic of more C&I and less CRE, we’re likely to see our customers use their own liquidity first before they come back into line utilization. So we could be a little bit again behind the curve there.

David W. Darst – Guggenheim Securities LLC

Okay and then just as far as benefiting from a steeper curve, are you beginning to see any pickup in rates in the indirect category?

Scott A. Kingsley

We haven’t seen it yet David. I would tell you that in the second quarter, our new production still went on the books as lower than our blended average yield in the portfolio. So in that particular asset class, I think competition continues to be very, very robust. And because it’s a shorter duration, you’re getting less of that yield steepening where maybe you can look at 5, 10, 15 year assets and actually quote demand at higher rate because of what’s happening in the broader market. In that three to five or two to five window that most used in new cars fall into, I don’t think we’ve seen any pullback in rates at all.

David W. Darst – Guggenheim Securities LLC

Okay.

Scott A. Kingsley

The steepening of the curve is mostly been at the farther end. So and not the near term end which is closer to the duration in terms of the pricing indexes for the auto business.

David W. Darst – Guggenheim Securities LLC

Have you calculated kind of your sensitivity to a steeper curve versus the parallel shift and where you favor more?

Scott A. Kingsley

I think David, like, I like probably everybody. I think we certainly calculate the benefit with steeper curve and higher rates and no doubt about that, the characteristics I would kind of play into that is that, you see that immediately in capital reinvestment assumptions of investment trend securities in larger cash flow from your investment portfolio.

I think on the loan side, I think we’re pretty neutral, relative to that outcome, we certainly know that we have rates in place today that are above where four conditions are today on the commercial side. So it’s going to be a little bit of a lag in the way up there, and I think ultimately for us and for a lot of people with very high level of core funding, there will be a slower elongation up on the funding side that maybe people appreciate in the market. If you’re comparing us to somebody with less core funding, sort of old thrift characteristics or lots of wholesale funding, I think you’ll see their funding cost move up more precipitously, or more linearly with the changes in the curve.

David W. Darst – Guggenheim Securities LLC

Okay, great thank you.

Scott A. Kingsley

Thanks, David.

Mark E. Tryniski

Thanks, David.

Operator

(Operator Instructions) At this time, we have no questions in queue.

Mark E. Tryniski

Very good, thank you, Beth. Thank you all for joining us. We will talk next quarter. Thank you.

Operator

That concludes today’s conference. Thank you for your participation. You may now disconnect.

Copyright policy: All transcripts on this site are the copyright of Seeking Alpha. However, we view them as an important resource for bloggers and journalists, and are excited to contribute to the democratization of financial information on the Internet. (Until now investors have had to pay thousands of dollars in subscription fees for transcripts.) So our reproduction policy is as follows: You may quote up to 400 words of any transcript on the condition that you attribute the transcript to Seeking Alpha and either link to the original transcript or to www.SeekingAlpha.com. All other use is prohibited.

THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HERE IS A TEXTUAL REPRESENTATION OF THE APPLICABLE COMPANY'S CONFERENCE CALL, CONFERENCE PRESENTATION OR OTHER AUDIO PRESENTATION, AND WHILE EFFORTS ARE MADE TO PROVIDE AN ACCURATE TRANSCRIPTION, THERE MAY BE MATERIAL ERRORS, OMISSIONS, OR INACCURACIES IN THE REPORTING OF THE SUBSTANCE OF THE AUDIO PRESENTATIONS. IN NO WAY DOES SEEKING ALPHA ASSUME ANY RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY INVESTMENT OR OTHER DECISIONS MADE BASED UPON THE INFORMATION PROVIDED ON THIS WEB SITE OR IN ANY TRANSCRIPT. USERS ARE ADVISED TO REVIEW THE APPLICABLE COMPANY'S AUDIO PRESENTATION ITSELF AND THE APPLICABLE COMPANY'S SEC FILINGS BEFORE MAKING ANY INVESTMENT OR OTHER DECISIONS.

If you have any additional questions about our online transcripts, please contact us at: transcripts@seekingalpha.com. Thank you!

Source: Community Bank System, Inc. (CBU) CEO Discusses Q2 2013 Results - Earnings Call Transcript
This Transcript
All Transcripts