News Column

National Penn to close 9 bank branches

January 24, 2014

By Scott Kraus, The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)

Jan. 24 -- National Penn Bancshares , the Boyertown -based bank that is moving its corporate headquarters to Allentown this spring, plans to close nine branches later this year. The consolidation will include several supermarket locations, the majority of which are within two miles of other National Penn branches. The closures and staff reductions at other branches will result in 112 layoffs, said Chief Financial Officer Mike Hughes in a conference call reviewing National Penn's fourth quarter and 2013 annual earnings. National Penn has 19 Lehigh Valley locations, including three sites located at Giant grocery stores. The locations to be closed have not been announced. Overall the bank, with $8.6 billion in assets, has 120 branches, all but one of which is located in Pennsylvania . The bank reported $98.1 million in adjusted earnings in 2013, on par with 2012 adjusted earnings of $98.5 million . Earnings were 67 cents per diluted share, compared to 66 cents in 2012. Adjusted return on average assets for 2013 was $1.18 . For the fourth quarter, National Penn reported adjusted earnings of $25.1 million or 17 cents per diluted share. The bank saw a 3.5 percent increase in commercial loans in 2013, and continues to focus on growing that sector of its business, said CEO Scott Fainor . The bank also is still looking to grow through acquisitions, targeting regional banks with at least $500 million in assets. "From that standpoint our focus has always been to continue to have the conversations, look for the opportunities and we believe it would be a good thing to participate in the consolidation of the industry and we believe we will have that opportunity," Fainor said. Fainor said the bank's loan quality remains high. The bank ended year with less than 1 percent of its loan portfolio classified as non-performing. Operating expenses were down 3 percent in the fourth quarter, but up 1 percent for the year. National Penn also plans to repurchase up to 5 percent of its stock during 2014. "I am optimistic that the loan growth we realized in the quarter provides momentum for 2014," Fainor said. "The strength of National Penn's balance sheet and the expense reduction initiatives provide us with a solid base from which to grow." Fulton Financial , parent company of Lafayette Ambassador Bank , also recently announced plans to close 13 branches in 2014, including six in Pennsylvania , in a bid to save $8 million in operating expenses. Lafayette Ambassador has two dozen branches within 20 miles of Bethlehem . scott.kraus@mcall.com 610-820-6745 ___ (c)2014 The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.) Visit The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.) at www.mcall.com Distributed by MCT Information Services


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Source: Morning Call (Allentown, PA)


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