News Column

First Busey stockholders get higher dividends

May 5, 2014

By Don Dodson, The News-Gazette, Champaign-Urbana, Ill.

May 05--CHAMPAIGN _ First Busey Corp. recently increased its cash dividend to shareholders for the first time in several years.

The parent company of Busey Bank announced that "due to strong financial performance," it would increase its quarterly dividend from 4 cents per common share to 5 cents per common share _ an increase of 25 percent. That 5 cents-per-share dividend was paid April 25 to stockholders of record as of April 18.

First Busey also reported that net income for the first quarter of this year was $7.9 million, up from $6.4 million for the first quarter of 2013. That was a nearly 23 percent increase. Meanwhile, the amount of net income available to common stockholders went up by 39 percent.

In a letter to shareholders, First Busey President and CEO Van Dukeman cited three major factors for the growth in net income:

_ First was a reduction in preferred dividends. Loan growth in 2013 pushed up the bank's Small Business Lending Fund credits, reducing the cost of the bank's preferred stock dividend this year. As a result, First Busey had to pay only $182,000 in preferred stock dividends during the first quarter, compared with $908,000 during the first quarter of 2013.

_ Second was a drop in credit costs. Problem loans continued to decline by virtually every measure, allowing the company to slice its provision for loan losses by half _ $1 million in the first quarter of this year, compared with $2 million in the first quarter of 2013.

_ Third was a decline in operating expenses. Noninterest expenses dropped from $29.6 million in the first quarter of 2013 to $26.6 million in the first quarter of this year. During the same time, the company increased the revenue it got from trust fees, remittance processing fees and commissions and brokers' fees.

During the first quarter of this year, one of First Busey's subsidiaries _ FirsTech, a retail payment processor _ had the highest quarterly income it has seen in 10 quarters.

Another First Busey subsidiary, Busey Wealth Management, and Trevett Capital Partners, a wealth management division of Busey Bank, saw quarterly revenues grow by double-digit percentages from the first quarter of 2013.

In his letter to shareholders, Dukeman also noted that First Busey has been chosen by Forbes as one of "America's 50 Most Trustworthy Financial Companies" for 2014. It was selected for its transparency from a base of more than 8,000 companies traded on U.S. exchanges.


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Source: News-Gazette (Champaign-Urbana, IL)