July 24--The parent company to Olympia-based Heritage Bank delivered on the promise of a recently completed merger as earnings shot higher in the second quarter.
Heritage Financial earned a second-quarter profit of $4.1 million, or 16 cents per share, compared to a profit of $2.7 million, or 18 cents a share in the same quarter a year ago.
But take away some merger-related expenses and Heritage's earnings for the quarter would've been $9.3 million, or 31 cents per share, the company's president and chief executive Brian Vance said Thursday.
The need to boost earnings per share growth was exactly what drove Heritage's merger with Washington Banking Co. of Oak Harbor, the parent company to Whidbey Island Bank. The $266 million deal closed May 1 and is expected to increase earnings by 24 percent in the first full year of 2015, Vance said.
"I like the trend that this is creating," said Vance about the early results of the merger.
Wall Street did, too, sending Heritage's stock, which trades under the ticker symbol HFWA, up 26 cents, or nearly 2 percent, to close at $15.97 per share on Thursday. In the past 52 weeks, the stock has traded between $14.86 per share and $18.64 per share.
Vance also shared his thoughts about the regional economy with The Olympian.
Heritage's footprint now stretches from Portland, Ore., to Bellingham, and the economy continues to show improvement across all areas, he said, but it is strongest in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties. Pierce County created 1,600 jobs in the May to June period, lowering its unemployment rate to 6 percent.
Heritage also increased its dividend to nine cents from eight cents. It will be paid Aug. 21 to shareholders of record on Aug. 7.
Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 firstname.lastname@example.org @rolf_boone
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