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First Niagara Financial Group Inc. (NASDAQ:FNFG)

Q2 2008 Earnings Call Transcript

July 24, 2008 11:00 am ET

Executives

John Koelmel – President & CEO

Mike Harrington – CFO

Kevin O'Bryan – SVP and Chief Credit Officer

Analysts

Damon DelMonte – KBW

Tony Davis – Stifel Nicolaus

Tom Alonso – FPK

Matthew Kelley – Sterne, Agee

Operator

Greetings, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the First Niagara second quarter 2008 earnings conference call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode, and a brief question-and-answer session will follow the formal presentation. (Operator instructions) As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. I would now like to turn the conference over to your host, Mr. John Koelmel, President and Chief Executive Officer of First Niagara. Thank you. Mr. Koelmel, you may now begin.

John Koelmel

Thank you very much, Jackie. Good morning, everyone. With me again today are Mike Harrington, our Chief Financial Officer, as well as Kevin O'Bryan, our Chief Credit Officer. After my brief comments, Mike will, as you know, walk you through the quarter in some greater detail. And before we open it up for questions, Kevin will give you his perspective on the credit story as well as the Upstate New York markets in general. In light of the ongoing credit and economic challenges, we thought it would be helpful if you heard it correctly from him.

But first, from where I sit, in a nutshell, we are very proud of a very strong second quarter performance. We've had an excellent first half of the year. The benefits of the positive momentum from a solid first quarter were more fully realized during the last three months. We again assure you there is nothing corky about our performance. We’re doing it the good old fashioned way, strong loan growth, solid balance sheet management, and firm credit discipline. We believe our progress is a direct result of spot-on execution of a game plan we put in place 18 months ago.

We talked to you in the past about how we are going to further transform the company. We scrutinized each business line for sustainable competitive advantages and upside profitability. We better allocated resources against our best opportunity while maintaining a long-term focus on our decision-making and have clearly avoided reaching for short-term earning sources that have since bit the hand of so many others.

I am very proud to say our performance is not mere coincidence, nor just good fortune, but more importantly the result of our concerted efforts over the past year to transform our franchise and better position ourselves for longer-term success. Continuing to do that we're focusing relentlessly on our competitive strengths, keeping a longer-term perspective about all we do and not getting sidetracked by non-strategic business activities, nor otherwise fall prey to reaching for ill-advised growth.

We also continue to realign our resources in investment dollars to our best opportunities. That's well exemplified by our commercial franchise, which is generating superb loan and cross-sell growth. We remain on the offensive with our largest-ever branding campaign, as well as by leveraging the benefits in the Western New York market of the Greater Buffalo Savings Bank acquisition.

Our commercial services franchise is obviously hitting all cylinders. We again reinforce exceptional loan growth hasn’t been accompanied by a relaxation of underwriting criteria, rather we have a team of energized lenders and relationship managers that are bringing superior service and products to our region’s commercial sector. There's no question there's good business out there to be had and we are getting after it. We also know we can further exploit the competitive gaps that have been left for both larger and smaller players in our markets.

Just as importantly, we are making great strides on the retail side. Lanny Little joined us earlier this year from Wells Fargo to lead our consumer banking franchise. This quickly made a difference. It’s an even greater relationship based approach to our customer activities, especially related to deposit pricing. As a result, we’ve seen core deposit levels rise while we’ve been able reduce the number of single product and other customers that have weighed historically on profitability.

Before I flip it to Mike, let me talk just a couple seconds on what I think are a few highlights in the quarter. I just referenced our commercial loan growth, continues at a brisk double-digit rate. No question we are taking share from others while at the same time expanding existing relationships. Margin further widened to 3.50, highest level we’ve seen since the end of 2006. Particularly our guys have done a fabulous job in managing our liability costs and as a result revenues, net interest income, in particular, have reached record levels in the quarter.

But maybe most importantly right now, our credit picture continues to be a point of strength. Non-performers are relatively flat and a second quarter charge-off rate of 26 basis points remains at a modest level. I want to suggest that that implies we are complacent, we are very mindful of the precarious macro environment. Therefore, we will maintain an appropriate balance between credit discipline and our growth expectations. The positive operating leverage drove our efficiency ratio below 60% for the quarter. We continue to manage our expense base intelligently by balancing longer-term growth investments with cost restraint.

Integration of Greater Buffalo has gone very smoothly. We now look forward to more fully leveraging the expanded client base and retail presence (inaudible) as we look forward in the months ahead. So, all in all, a lot for us to feel good about in the quarter, but please don’t mistake our positive feelings and enthusiasm with overconfidence. We remain very grounded and focused and have a healthy respect for the realities of today’s environment. There is no question we are proud of how we further distinguished ourselves. And others were taking massive charge-offs and write-downs, we've incurred none. Others have had already sizable amounts of dilute [ph] over expensive capital, and we continue to be in a very strong position. And when dividends are being slashed across the industry, ours has remained untouched.

And we think all of this speaks volumes to the underlying strength of our franchise and the discipline and commitment of our entire organization. That’s why our focus continues to be locked on to the future. We’ve always been upbeat about operating in Upstate New York. Today we have an even stronger conviction about the potential of our franchise in our markets and look to further build on the momentum we’ve been generating. We are proud by our results for the first half of this year and what we foresee for the next six months, we validate that confidence with a very solid operating performance.

With that, I’m happy to have Mike now take you through the quarter in a little more detail.

Mike Harrington

Thanks, John, and good morning. As John said, our second quarter results definitely provided us with a great deal of validation and encouragement. Quarter loan growth continued at an exceptional pace as our ongoing focus this very important business line again produced outstanding results. And our efforts to control funding costs have led to a significant reduction in the rate on interest bearing liabilities, which dropped to its lowest level in over two years.

The combination of continued strong loan growth and more favorable deposit pricing resulted in a 17 basis point increase in net interest margin. Our credit performance was very sound with MPAs up only modestly from the prior quarter and loan loss was well inline with our expectations. And operating leverage turned solidly positive, continuing its improvement this year, an evidence of a franchise that is really proving in the most demanding of times.

Before I start my review, please note that all balances will be stated as quarterly averages unless they indicate otherwise. And to help you with an apples-to-apples comparison, I will do my best to exclude the effects of the Great Lakes acquisition, which closed in this February when discussing period-over-period trends and changes.

Operating earnings per share of $0.22 was a healthy $0.03 or 16% above the previous quarter's level, and $0.01 over the same period a year ago. And very importantly, operating earnings and GAAP net income are one and the same. A very solid and clean quarter and consistent with the fact that we have put the restructuring and repositioning initiatives behind us.

As I’ve already mentioned, very strong growth continued in our combined commercial loan portfolios. Portfolio balances increased by $129 million, or 15% annualized over the first quarter. The second largest quarterly increase in over two years. Commercial loans now represent 54% of total loans, up from 51% a year ago, an indicative of the ongoing transformation of our banking franchise.

C&I loans posted another quarter of solid growth, with balances rising 29% above the previous quarter on an annualized basis. Contributing to this increase was strong growth in production that is particularly evident when looking at the pipeline of approved and committed loans in our Eastern Europe market and very low levels of pay-downs or refinancings due to decreased competition, a sign that liquidity and capital continue to be an issue for many.

Commercial real estate loan balances posted a solid 12% annualized gain, also benefiting from strong originations and advances, as well as lower than normal payoffs for the quarter. As John noted, we have not sacrificed the credit standards or pricing to achieve and sustain these growth rates. In fact, we are being more selective from a credit perspective and getting paid better spreads in the current environment.

We are adding their business and retaining more of what we have as our strong capabilities as a commercial services provider has become better known. Our favorable results are a testament to the strength and quality of our lending team as well as our ability to react quickly to the needs of the marketplace in these uncertain times.

Turning to the home equity portfolio. Loan balances increased for the quarter by $10 million or 7% on an annualized basis, as our successful marketing efforts took full advantage of normal, seasonal demand. Compared to a year ago, this priority portfolio is up $36 million and continues to perform well with no change in delinquency statistics over the last year.

Finally, residential mortgages and other consumer loan balances trended further downward by $61 million or 11% annualized from the first quarter and $349 million from a year ago. Regarding mortgages, consumer preference continues to be for long-term fixed rate products, which we originate and sell into the secondary market while other consumer loans such as auto loans continued to be emphasized from a business strategy standpoint.

Looking at our funding activities, total deposit balances remained stable from the linked quarter. The ongoing change in deposit mix however is decidedly positive as core deposits represent a 65% of total deposits. For the quarter, money market deposits grew by $170 million or 39% annualized as demand for this product is high from each of our consumer, commercial and municipal customer segments. CD balances declined by $152 million or 25% annualized, reflecting our adherence to a disciplined pricing strategy. Better said, over the last three months, a third of our CD portfolio has repriced and we have retained over 70% of those balances while lowering the overall cost of the portfolio by 61 basis points.

In addition, we have sharpened our focus on growing profitability relationships and those efforts have already produced considerable success. If you average profitability of an active household relationship double that with the ones we have closed. A portion of the CD customers who did not roll over their balances have moved their funds to money market accounts, also a product of lower cost and higher profitability. We’ve also continued to witness the migration of savings balances to money market accounts although the rates slowed significantly in the second quarter.

Municipal deposits grew by $40 million, we received inflows related to large capital products in Eastern New York and continued to successfully add new clients across the state. In general, we are seeing municipalities continue to add funds into more liquid money market accounts and shy away from longer-term CDs.

Adding to our non-interest bearing balances, business checking deposits were higher for the quarter with the addition of almost 1,000 new accounts, as our commercial deposit gathering strategy continues to build momentum. As a result, non-interest bearing deposits increased by $34 million.

Turning to credit quality, non-performing loans of $34 million remained at 53 basis points of total loans. A minor increase in commercial loan non-performers was largely offset by a reduction in non-performers in our consumer loan portfolios, including residential mortgages.

Net charge-offs did increase by $2.1 million from the previous quarter to $4.1 million. Most of that coming from a small number of commercial real estate and business loans. This equated to 26 basis points of average loans, which we believe is indicative of the levels we expect on a go-forward basis.

We remain confident that our overall loan quality is solid and we have not experienced any broad-based deterioration in our portfolio. While we have had some downward migration in loan risk ratings as we evaluate credits under the current environmental circumstances.

Total delinquencies are actually down by $9 million or 14% from the first quarter, and our overall delinquency rate of 81 basis points is down by 9 basis points from year-end. Based on that combination of factors, we provided $4.9 million for credit losses during the quarter. This compares to the $3.1 million in the first quarter and $2.3 million a year ago.

Given our above average loan growth, our continued shift toward more commercial loan mix and the general level of economic uncertainty, we expect loan loss provisions to continue at at least that level for the second half of the year. As of quarter-end, coverage ratios are in solid shape with reserves at 218% of non-performing loans and 117 basis points of total loans.

One final note related to credit quality and our investment portfolio. Given the recent trials and tribulations involving Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, I would like to outline our exposure to these organizations. We do not own any of either agency’s preferred securities. We only own one $2 million Fannie Mae senior debt issuance. Other than that, 53% of our investment portfolio is guaranteed by the GSCs and we remain confident that these guarantees will be honored in the event of borrower default.

In regards to the remainder of our non-agency mortgage-backed securities, all of those securities remain AAA rated and showed no signs of deteriorating based on our internal tracking.

Moving on to operating results. Net interest income was especially strong, rising by $6.5 million or 11% above last quarter. This improvement is directly attributable to our concerted efforts to manage funding costs to the execution of our deposit pricing strategy as well as a full quarter benefit of the Great Lakes balance sheet.

In addition to the benefits of strong commercial lending and deposit mix shift I’ve already mentioned, we have continued to substitute lower-cost wholesale borrowings for high-priced CDs and simultaneously extended the duration of the borrowing position. The cumulative effect of those factors resulted in a 17 basis point increase in our tax equivalent net interest margin to a level of 350 basis points, the widest spread we have seen in over six quarters.

While we remain optimistic about the continued expansion of the margin over the near-term, the impacts of a dynamic and changing economic environment are uncertain. Having said this, we are expecting a 10 basis point improvement in our net interest margin for the remainder of 2008. Non-interest income of $29.6 million, a small percent above last quarter, as higher seasonal activity from electronic banking and wealth management services exceeded the first quarter recognition of partnership investment gains.

Productivity per financial consultant move upward for the quarter as increased sales and referrals from branch employees helped to push our retail channel’s assets under management nearly $1 billion. Non-interest income for the quarter 2% below 2007’s level, primarily due to the continuing industry-wide softening and insurance renewal rates. The good news on this front is that the softness of the insurance market is easing, pricing declines are decelerating. However, we don’t expect to see the potential benefits of this trend until at least 2009.

That’s for operating expenses. The current quarter increased by $1 million or 2% over the previous quarter, primarily due to the increase in personnel cost reflecting a full quarter inclusion of staff of Greater Buffalo. Our expense discipline coupled with strong revenue growth created positive operating leverage in the second quarter and significantly improved our efficiency ratio from 62 to 59%, the lowest level in over six quarters.

And on the capital management front, our tangible common equity ratios at June 30 was 7.6% consistent with last quarter. We are committed to returning capital to shareholders as we just declared a dividend of $0.14 per share, consistent with the prior quarter and 8% above a year ago. But we also recognize the need to preserve capital given the current circumstances. Therefore, we do not engage in any stock buybacks during the second quarter. We are absolutely determined to persevere through the current environment, strongest possible balance sheet and without sacrificing our performance or growth.

In summary, we are very encouraged by our second quarter results and our accomplishments for the first half of the year. However, as John stated earlier, we are by no means getting ahead ourselves based on this performance. Economists that were predicting a recovery in the latter half of 2008 are now pushing this optimism out to 2009.

The recent stress caused by the market’s concern for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac along with further asset write-downs and credit losses taken by financial institutions continue to fuel uncertainty and erode confidence in our financial system generally. But our loan growth has remained strong and our credit performance has been solid. The impact of the slowing economy coupled with inflationary pressures we get to the natural sense of caution.

That said, we remain confident in our ability to produce 4% to 6% EPS growth in 2008. More importantly, we are energized by the collective momentum of the organization that’s longer-term potential. With that, and before we open things up for questions, I’d like to give Kevin O’Bryan, our Chief Credit Officer, to share his thoughts and perspectives on the current economic climate and our position as it relates to credit risk. Kevin?

Kevin O'Bryan

Thanks, Mike, and good morning. As I know you’ve heard from John and Mike previously, our Upstate New York lending footprint has historically exhibited neither boom nor bust characteristics. That still holds true in the current economy. Real estate values that remain relatively stable in all of our markets and unemployment and energy prices while troublesome have not yet contributed to a discernable economic decline.

As a result, by remaining a disciplined, diversified in footprint lender, we’ve been able to avoid the degree of credit deteriorations some multi-regional lenders have experienced. Nevertheless those sectors more dependent on discretionary spending are currently and will continue to receive a higher degree of underwriting and monitory scrutiny.

Credit trends are consistent with our expectations despite the uncertainty in the broader market. Overall charge-offs are up slightly. Save for leasing, no one business line stands out and no overall trends are evident across all our regions. Delinquencies are down quarter-over-quarter, non-performers are up slightly. The increase in ORE is primarily the result of the addition of one 700,000 commercial real estate loan.

Corporate and business banking charge-offs also increased modestly due to one $600,000 relationship. Commercial real estate charge-offs annualized are down from year-end 2007. As Mike noted, as a result of our internal loan review, we have seen some risk rating migration. But at this point, it is a collection of individual circumstances, no macroeconomic related trend is evident. Nevertheless these loans are closely monitored and, where appropriate, reserved.

Drilling down into some of the individual portfolios, we continue to derive strong commercial loan growth from the regions well known to us. Over 95% of our commercial real estate loans originated within our New York State footprint. Another mainstay of this portfolio is the fact that 36% of these loans are secured by multi-family properties, historically a low-risk commercial asset.

Construction loans continue to perform well and comprise only 7% of the total commercial portfolio. Our commercial construction loan portfolio contains very few spec projects. While on the residential side, the entire spec portfolio was less than $6 million. This is mentioned just to underscore our disciplined approach to what might otherwise in these times be considered a riskier line of business.

Acquisition and development portfolio totals about 5% of the overall commercial portfolio is 93% in footprint and continues to be monitored very closely. The portfolio’s credit and performance characteristics are consistent with the broader commercial portfolio. That said, we are never complacent when it comes to credit quality. And in light of the strong pressures nationally on these asset classes, we have raised the bar even further in bringing scrutiny to these portfolios.

Also as mentioned by Mike, our home equity portfolio continues to have a strong credit profile. As we have not had any material deterioration in delinquencies or loss rates, past-due loans are only six-tenths of 1% of the total portfolio at quarter-end, levels consistent with last quarter as well as 2007 year-end.

Looking forward, there is some evidence of softening in our commercial real estate markets, fewer new projects in both the office and retail sectors. It is reasonable to expect that trend to continue as developers like lenders sort out the downturn’s impact. While we have no definitive data with regard to a broader business slowdown Upstate, any extended national law will eventually challenge even our footprint.

John Koelmel

Thanks so much, Kevin, Michael as well With that, Jackie, why don’t you open it up and we will be happy to take everyone’s questions.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

Thank you. (Operator instructions) Our first question is coming from Damon DelMonte of KBW.

Damon DelMonte – KBW

Hi, good morning guys. How are you?

John Koelmel

Good, Damon, how about you?

Damon DelMonte – KBW

Good. Mike, circle back with you on your – you said you guys are comfortable with the 4% to 6% growth in EPS for 2008, is that correct?

Mike Harrington

Yes.

Damon DelMonte – KBW

And is that off of the operating number of $0.79 of last quarter – I’m sorry, of last year?

Mike Harrington

Yes, that range, $0.80.

Damon DelMonte – KBW

And then with regard to the margin, you said you are looking at about 10 basis points of additional improvement over this quarter and the second half of ’08?

Mike Harrington

Right, that’s correct.

Damon DelMonte – KBW

Okay. That’s all I have for now. I may come back in the queue. Thanks.

Mike Harrington

Okay.

John Koelmel

Thanks, Damon.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question is coming from Tony Davis of Stifel Nicolaus.

Tony Davis – Stifel Nicolaus

Good morning gentlemen.

John Koelmel

Hi Tony.

Mike Harrington

Good morning.

Tony Davis – Stifel Nicolaus

Kevin, you mentioned leasing, and I did see an uptick here in MPAs in the specialized lending here. Can you give us a little more color there?

Kevin O'Bryan

Yes. That’s a relatively small portfolio, about $120 million. And arguably it’s on the cutting edge of this kind of economy and we’ve experienced a little more charge-offs than we planned on. And we are taking steps to mitigate that going forward.

Tony Davis – Stifel Nicolaus

Okay. John, I wonder if you could describe the competitive environment in your markets today versus the end of the year. Obviously your competitors are behaving a lot differently on both sides of the balance sheet. It appears obviously credit spreads and deposit spreads are moving favorably. Just a little more color on what you are seeing now that’s really different?

John Koelmel

You heard us talk three months ago, we are no question generally pleased with the direction the competition is moving. Don’t want to imply it isn’t strong and stiff. And three months later, well, I think we are generally seeing a consistent trend, also seeing indications that the others are attempting to step up and/or step back in and be a little bit more aggressive whether it be on the lending end or the deposit gathering fronts. But big picture, it’s a much more rational market that we didn’t have at the latter half of last year, and that we are, I’ll say, generally pleased with the outcomes of that. Competitively we’ve attempted to stay the course, be consistent, stay true to what we’ve always done and we think that has enabled us to stand a little bit taller and enhance the profile and visibility that we have whether it be from a commercial or real estate standpoint, Tony.

Tony Davis – Stifel Nicolaus

Okay. Finally, Mike, how much of the CD book reprices here in the second half and do you know out of your head what the embedded coupon is?

Mike Harrington

I could speak for the next quarter, Tony.

Tony Davis – Stifel Nicolaus

Yes, okay.

Mike Harrington

Over 40%.

Tony Davis – Stifel Nicolaus

Okay, great.

Mike Harrington

And the embedded coupons in the mid fours.

Tony Davis – Stifel Nicolaus

Okay. Thank you.

Mike Harrington

Welcome.

John Koelmel

That continues obviously to be the reason why we are suggesting margin should further widen out.

Tony Davis – Stifel Nicolaus

After this next block CDs reprices and we should see more of a steady state there in that portfolio.

Mike Harrington

Okay, good. Thanks.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question is coming from Tom Alonso of FPK.

Tom Alonso – FPK

Good morning guys.

John Koelmel

Hi Tom.

Tom Alonso – FPK

How are you? I just back to the CD book, so then if we are sort of going to wait this 10 basis point, I would assume that the majority of it would show up in the third quarter. Is that a fair assumption?

John Koelmel

Yes.

Tom Alonso – FPK

And then on the loan growth, you guys had noted a slowdown in prepayments and I believe in previous calls you had mentioned increased line usage. If you could just sort of comment on the slowdown, is that just people aren’t getting taken up by competitors?

John Koelmel

On the slowdown, there is a sense. I mean, it’s hard to generalize case-by-case, but there is a sense that the liquidity that was in the permanent loan market just isn’t there any more. And that we are able to compete and retain loans that in higher markets we thought for and often got paid off. So that’s worked out well.

Mike Harrington

Line usages down quarter-to-quarter is in about 48% and dropped to 45% this quarter.

Tom Alonso – FPK

And then just any sort of additional comments there you guys could make on the progress you are having or you are making in the retail bank?

John Koelmel

Our focus – one is to further the relationship based strategy that we’ve been working over the last couple of years, Tom, just do that. And as you heard us talk about everything, a little more focused in a disciplined manner, we’ve been able to read the benefits of a sharper effort and some better execution at our end as well as the realities of today’s environment to better price and better position, in particular the CD book and obviously the attention you all give that as well. The good news is we’ve been able to retain a healthy portion of our CD customers. As we’ve repositioned that book, we’ve seen more than migrate into what we think the core accounts. And that’s enabled us to advance our collective efforts to deepen those relationships and improve the overall profitability of that line of business.

Tom Alonso – FPK

Okay. Terrific. Thanks.

John Koelmel

Thank you.

Operator

(Operator instructions) Our next question is coming from Matthew Kelley of Sterne, Agee.

Matthew Kelley – Sterne, Agee

Hi guys. On the 40% that reprices in CDs in the mid-fours, what is the current promotional rate that, you know, people are kind of paying attention that they logically gravitate towards?

Mike Harrington

Well, it depends on what terms I want, Matt. So the longer – we are trying to extend our liabilities given the current rate environment.

Matthew Kelley – Sterne, Agee

Yes.

Mike Harrington

So you can get into high threes if you are willing to go out longer on the curve, sort of in the three to four-year sector.

Matthew Kelley – Sterne, Agee

Right.

Mike Harrington

And then that drops into the twos as you get shorter to mid-two. So it really depends on what mix we end up with ultimately as the CDs rollover.

Matthew Kelley – Sterne, Agee

Okay.

Mike Harrington

We have seen some willingness from a borrower’s or customer standpoint to extend maturities.

Matthew Kelley – Sterne, Agee

Okay. And then I know it was reviewed briefly, but can you break down again way the charge-offs occurred, that 4.1 million?

Mike Harrington

They are really pretty much across all business lines. There were a couple of charge-offs in both the commercial real estate and the commercial loan area that helped give rise to I think what it is a $1 million all-in increase. But I would pretty much cross all business lines, nothing – no trend of any particular note as we look through that experience.

Matthew Kelley – Sterne, Agee

Okay. All right. And then just in terms of kind of credits going, were there any areas that you guys are getting more cautious on the consumer side or commercial side, or – you kind of indicated a general heightening of concerns, I guess, modest levels of sort of increased concern across the portfolio, any particular buckets there?

Mike Harrington

Well, we are careful about the things we ought to be careful about. I don’t mean to be glib, but anything that depends on our discretionary income or strong dependency on energy prices these days is getting a very careful look on the new origination side and as we scrutinize the loans and portfolio. And A&D [ph] is always a hot button, but we’ve been able to manage that portfolio pretty carefully.

Matthew Kelley – Sterne, Agee

Okay. The home equity, how does that break out between lines of credit and second positions, and if you noticed any changes in draw-downs at all on the lines of credit?

Mike Harrington

The last question I’ll answer first. The drawdowns are fairly consistent quarter-over-quarter, line usage, I’ll say, I don’t have a breakdown of lines versus loans available to me right now. I can get that for you later

Matthew Kelley – Sterne, Agee

Okay. What about just combined loan to value?

Mike Harrington

We don’t –

John Koelmel

We don’t track that.

Matthew Kelley – Sterne, Agee

Okay. All right. Thank you.

Mike Harrington

Okay.

Operator

(Operator instructions) Thank you, gentlemen. There are no further questions. I’d like to hand the floor back over to management for any closing comments.

John Koelmel

Thank you very much, Jackie. Appreciate your help to facilitate. Thank you one and all for spending some time with us this morning. Appreciate your continuing interests and we look forward to catching up again 90 days from now with the continuation of what we believe as a good starting. So have a great morning and great day, and we’ll talk to you again soon.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, this does conclude today’s teleconference. You may disconnect your lines at this time. Thank you for your participation.

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Source: First Niagara Financial Group Inc. Q2 2008 Earnings Call Transcript
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