Berkshire Bank,Berkshire Hills Bancorp (Nasdaq: BHLB) reported net income of $3.4 million, or $0.25 per share, in the third quarter of 2010. This was a 78% increase over third quarter 2009 results of $1.9 million, or $0.14 per share, and included the benefit of positive operating leverage from strong revenue growth. For the first nine months of the year, Berkshire’s net income increased by 25% to $10.2 million in 2010 from $8.1 million in 2009. Earnings per share for the first nine months more than doubled to $0.73 in 2010 from $0.32 in 2009 due to the impact in 2009 of retiring government preferred stock.THIRD QUARTER FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS(revenue and expense comparisons are to prior year third quarter, unless otherwise noted)15% growth in net interest income9% growth in total net revenue15% annualized growth in total commercial loans7% annualized growth in total loans6% annualized growth in total deposits.3.30% net interest margin, compared to 2.96% in the prior year third quarter and to 3.25% in the second quarter of 20100.69% non-performing assets to total assets0.40% annualized net loan charge-offs/average loansMichael P. Daly, President and Chief Executive Officer, stated, “We produced another solid quarter and exceeded our expectations in all major categories as we continue to build positive earnings momentum. Our Commercial lending teams continued to attract quality loan relationships and we maintained a strong pace of deposit growth with disciplined pricing that resulted in solid margin expansion. All of our major asset quality metrics are favorable and despite an uncertain national economy we expect that our asset quality metrics will continue to compare favorably based on current trends.”Mr. Daly continued, “Last week we announced a definitive agreement to acquire Rome Bancorp, which operates five branches serving central New York, with access to Utica and proximity to Syracuse. The Route 90 corridor in New York is a logical expansion for our New York region, which will grow to 17 out of a total of 47 Berkshire Bank branches with this merger and our new branch openings. We were pleased that Rome chose to partner with us and recognized the attractive potential for accelerated earnings growth and shareholder value in this combination. We are planning to complete this transaction in the first quarter of 2011. We will continue to pursue opportunities for both strong organic growth and growth through partnerships that deliver solid benefits to all of our constituencies.”Mr. Daly added, “Senior Vice President Tom Barney who helped build a well-regarded and profitable wealth management business at Berkshire has decided to retire from his leadership duties and he will continue in a consultancy role. I am most grateful for his service and contributions to our success. I am pleased to announce the promotion of Charles Leach to Senior Vice President and Chief Investment Officer. Charles has been with us for three years after joining us from TD Banknorth and has provided steady investment management throughout the market swings of the last few years. I am also pleased to announce that Scott Schiff has accepted the position of Senior Vice President in Wealth Management. Scott specializes in outstanding client service and relationship development and comes to us from Legacy Banks where his most recent position was Vice President and Director of Sales. We look forward to the opportunities we have to further develop this important business line in all of our regional markets through their combined leadership.”DIVIDEND DECLAREDThe Board of Directors maintained the cash dividend on Berkshire’s common stock, declaring a dividend of $0.16 per share to stockholders of record at the close of business on November 4, 2010 and payable on November 18, 2010.FINANCIAL CONDITIONTotal assets increased at a 7% annualized rate in the third quarter to $2.8 billion at quarter-end due to growth in loans and securities. This growth was funded by increases in deposits and borrowings. Liquidity remained strong, with loans/deposits remaining at 99%.The strong commercial loan growth in the third quarter brought year-to-date annualized growth to 11% for commercial loans and to 6% for total loans. Berkshire continues to adhere to strong underwriting and pricing disciplines as it captures larger market share with high grade loan originations in all of its commercial lending areas. This growth has offset the impact of lower demand from some of the Bank’s traditional borrowers as well as planned reductions associated with our risk management strategies. Loan growth has also been supported by the strong contribution from Berkshire’s new Asset Based Lending Group, which has expanded and diversified our lending geography and industry exposure with strong and established new commercial relationships that are well known to our seasoned lending team. The Company’s consumer lending also remains strong, with $165 million in residential mortgage originations and $36 million in new home equity credit bookings for the year-to-date Berkshire continues to sell most of its fixed rate mortgages to federal agencies in order to minimize interest rate risk in the current low rate environment.As of quarter-end, all major asset performance indicators remained at comparatively favorable levels in accordance with the Company’s plan at the start of the year. Non-performing assets decreased slightly to 0.69% of total assets and accruing delinquent loans were 0.31% of total loans at quarter-end. Annualized net loan charge-offs decreased to 0.40% of average loans in the third quarter, bringing the year-to-date annualized charge-off rate down to 0.43%. Berkshire maintains strict and decisive workout processes while the overall portfolio risk characteristics are steadily improving as a result of the Company’s disciplined underwriting standards.Annualized deposit growth was 6% in the third quarter and for the first nine months of the year. Personal checking account balances were up 11% over the last twelve months, reflecting the Bank’s expansion and continued focus on relationship products. Berkshire’s new Private Banking Group, located in Springfield, has contributed $33 million to deposit growth in 2010. Berkshire opened its 11th New York office in September, adding its second Albany branch, and has plans to open a new branch located in Latham in the coming months.RESULTS OF OPERATIONSThe 78% year-to-year increase in third quarter net income to $3.4 million in 2010 was primarily due to higher net interest income and a lower loan loss provision. The 25% improvement in nine month results also reflected these factors. Loan growth and margin improvement have been the key contributors to net interest income growth. Net interest income has increased sequentially in each of the last four quarters. The lower loan loss provisions reflect the resolution of problem and potential problem loan situations as a result of Berkshire’s loan quality initiatives. By combining revenue growth and minimizing expense growth compared to the prior quarter, Berkshire has maintained the positive momentum of improved operating leverage. As a result, despite the normal seasonal decline of $1.0 million in insurance contingency revenues, Berkshire’s third quarter net income was up slightly from the second quarter of 2010.Total core revenue increased by 9% for the third quarter and by 7% for the first nine months of the year in 2010 compared to 2009. The 15% growth in third quarter net interest income included the benefit of 3% growth in average earning assets and an improvement in the net interest margin to 3.30% from 2.96%. The margin improvement primarily reflected lower funding costs and included the benefit of borrowing hedge restructurings and lower deposit costs. The net interest margin has improved sequentially in each of the last four quarters. Third quarter fee income was down 4% from year-to-year due to lower wealth management fees. For the first nine months of the year, fee income was up 3% as strong banking related revenue gains for deposit, loan, and interest rate swap revenues offset lower insurance contingency revenues. Of note, third quarter checking fee income was up 7% over the prior year, including the benefit of ongoing growth in Berkshire’s business volumes. This included a 6% increase in overdraft fee income despite the impact of the implementation during the quarter of the new Regulation E affecting industry overdraft service charge procedures.Reflecting the current favorable asset quality measures, the third quarter loan loss provision decreased in the third quarter of 2010 compared to 2009, which also resulted in a decrease in the provision for the first nine months of the year. The third quarter loan loss provision was $2.0 million, while quarterly net loan charge-offs were also $2.0 million. The loan loss allowance has remained flat in 2010, with the ratio of the allowance to total loans decreasing slightly to 1.55% at September 30, 2010 from 1.62% at the start of the year. Total non-accruing loans decreased by 58% during the first nine months of 2010, and the ratio of the allowance to non-accruing loans increased to 194% from 82% during this period.As a result of business growth, total non-interest expense was up 6% in the third quarter and 5% for the first nine months of 2010 compared to 2009. Berkshire has added the asset based lending and private banking business units and has opened new branches, all of which are initially operating at losses as new revenues are built. Due to the previously noted growth in total core operating revenues, Berkshire has produced positive operating leverage which has contributed to net income growth and to an improvement in the efficiency ratio. For the year-to-date, compensation related expense increases have also included the restoration of incentive compensation and a decrease in compensation costs charged against non-interest income related to loan sales. Nine month non-interest expense in 2009 also included non-core items and a $1.3 million special FDIC insurance assessment. In 2010, the effective income tax rate was 24% for both the third quarter and first nine months of the year. The effective tax rate in 2009 was unusually low due to an income tax benefit recorded in the third quarter reflecting the nine month impact of a reduction in anticipated taxable income for the year.BACKGROUNDBerkshire Hills Bancorp is the parent of Berkshire Bank – America’s Most Exciting Bank(SM). The Company has $2.8 billion in assets and 41 full service financial centers in Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont. Berkshire Bank provides 100% deposit insurance protection for all deposit accounts, regardless of amount, based on a combination of FDIC insurance and the Depositors Insurance Fund (DIF). For more information, visit www.berkshirebank.com(link is external) or call 800-773-5601.Rome Bancorp, Inc. is a publicly held, one-bank holding company whose wholly-owned subsidiary, The Rome Savings Bank, maintains its corporate offices in Rome, New York. Rome Bancorp, Inc. is incorporated in the state of Delaware. The Rome Savings Bank, regulated by the Office of Thrift Supervision, operates five full-service community banking offices in Rome, Lee, and New Hartford, New York. Rome’s assets totaled $330 million as of June 30, 2010. Rome’s primary lines of business include residential real estate lending, small business loan and deposit services, as well as a variety of consumer loan and deposit services.FORWARD LOOKING STATEMENTSThis news release contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 about the proposed merger of Berkshire and Rome. These statements include statements regarding the anticipated closing date of the transaction and anticipated future results. Forward-looking statements can be identified by the fact that they do not relate strictly to historical or current facts. They often include words like “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “estimate,” and “intend” or future or conditional verbs such as “will,” “would,” “should,” “could” or “may.” Certain factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from expected results include delays in completing the merger, difficulties in achieving cost savings from the merger or in achieving such cost savings within the expected time frame, difficulties in integrating Berkshire and Rome, increased competitive pressures, changes in the interest rate environment, changes in general economic conditions, legislative and regulatory changes that adversely affect the business in which Berkshire and Rome are engaged, changes in the securities markets and other risks and uncertainties disclosed from time to time in documents that Berkshire files with the Securities and Exchange Commission.ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FOR STOCKHOLDERSThe proposed transaction with Rome Bancorp, Inc. will be submitted to Rome stockholders for their consideration. Berkshire will file with the SEC a Registration Statement on Form S-4 that will include a Proxy Statement of Rome and a Prospectus of Berkshire, as well as other relevant documents concerning the proposed transaction with the SEC. Stockholders of Rome are urged to read the Registration Statement and the Proxy Statement/Prospectus when it becomes available and any other relevant documents filed with the SEC, as well as any amendments or supplements to those documents, because they will contain important information. You will be able to obtain a free copy of the Registration Statement, Proxy Statement/Prospectus, as well as other filings containing information about Berkshire and Rome at the SEC’s Internet site (http://www.sec.gov(link is external)).Berkshire and Rome and certain of their directors and executive officers may be deemed to be participants in the solicitation of proxies from the stockholders of Rome in connection with the proposed merger. Information about the directors and executive officers of Berkshire is set forth in the proxy statement, dated March 26, 2010, for Berkshire’s 2010 annual meeting of stockholders, as filed with the SEC on Schedule 14A. Information about the directors and executive officers of Rome is set forth in the proxy statement, dated April 1, 2010, for Rome’s 2010 annual meeting of stockholders, as filed with the SEC on Schedule 14A. Additional information regarding the interests of such participants and other persons who may be deemed participants in the transaction may be obtained by reading the Proxy Statement/Prospectus when it becomes available. Free copies of this document may be obtained as described in the above paragraph.NON-GAAP FINANCIAL MEASURESThis document contains certain non-GAAP financial measures in addition to results presented in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (“GAAP”). These non-GAAP measures provide supplemental perspectives on operating results, performance trends, and financial condition. They are not a substitute for GAAP measures; they should be read and used in conjunction with the Company’s GAAP financial information. A reconciliation of non-GAAP financial measures to GAAP measures is included in the accompanying financial tables. In all cases, it should be understood that non-GAAP per share measures do not depict amounts that accrue directly to the benefit of shareholders. The Company utilizes the non-GAAP measure of core earnings in evaluating operating trends, including components for core revenue and expense. These measures exclude amounts which the Company views as unrelated to its normalized operations, including merger costs and restructuring costs. Similarly, the efficiency ratio is also adjusted for these non-core items. Additionally, the Company adjusts core income to exclude amortization of intangibles to arrive at a measure of the underlying operating cash return for the benefit of shareholders. The Company also adjusts certain equity related measures to exclude intangible assets due to the importance of these measures to the investment community. In the first quarter of 2009, the Company adjusted core earnings per share and core return on tangible common equity to be net of preferred stock dividends. These measures were not adjusted in this manner in the second quarter of 2009. The second quarter deemed dividend was a nonrecurring non-cash charge with no impact on stockholders’ equity and did not reflect a core economic event in the Company’s view. Additionally, the Company held cash at near-zero interest rates in the second quarter while it awaited the approval of the U.S. Treasury to repay the preferred stock. Accordingly, the preferred stock cash dividend and accretion charges were viewed by the Company as non-core one-time charges against income available to common stockholders related to the process of repaying the preferred stock. Other significant non-GAAP adjustments in 2009 related to a terminated merger agreement, borrowings prepayments, and the termination of an interest rate swap. Source: Berkshire. PITTSFIELD, Mass., Oct. 20 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ —
Tanzanian boxer Allan Kamote is expected to arrive in Ghana on Friday, November 28, 2014ahead of his well-publicized bout with Ghana’s George Ashie.The two will slug it out for the Interim WBO Africa Lightweight Championship scheduled to take place at the Accra stadium on December 5.It will be the second shot at a world title by Ashie, also known in boxing circles as Red Tiger, since losing on points to his Bukom compatriot Emmanuel ‘Home Boy’ Tagoe for the vacant WBA International lightweight title in Accra two years ago. Since then, Ashie, whose ring record stands at 24 wins (KO 17), four losses and one draw, has fought just once, earning a third round title victory over Kenyan Michael Odhiambo in an eight-rounder.The Ashie-Kamote bout headlined ‘Fist of Fury’, a six-bout promotion put together by Mcdon Multimedia, in collaboration with Box Office Promotions. The bout is also expected to be telecast live on South Africa pay-TV channel, SuperSport.Another potential thriller on the bill will be a 12-round WBF Africa Light-Heavyweight Championship fight between Maxwell “Black Wolf” Amponsah and Ebenezer “Upper Cut” Tetteh, while Pride “Octopus” Dzanie against Michael Barnor will slug it out for the national and West Africa Boxing Union (WABU) Bantamweight Championship. Former national champion, Patrick Allotey, will also face off with Isaac Aryee in a 10-round welterweight bout.