First Financial net income up

Company announces increases of 17.9% for year

First Financial Bancorp is reporting that full-year earnings during 2016 increased 18 percent compared to the prior year.

The company announced financial results for the fourth quarter and for all of 2016. For the three months ending Dec. 31, the company reported net income of $23.3 million, or 38 cents per diluted share, compared to $19.8 million, or 32 cents per diluted common share, for the fourth quarter of 2015.

For the 12 months ending Dec. 31, First Financial had earnings per diluted common share of $1.43 compared to $1.21 for the same period in 2015.

The company’s board of directors announced a 6.3 percent increase in quarterly dividend to 17 cents per share, payable on April 3 to shareholders of record as of March 2.

Highlights for the fourth quarter and full year include:

Net income increased $400,000 or 1.9 percent, compared to the linked quarter, and $13.5 million or 17.9 percent increase for the full year.

Loan balances declined $32 million, or 0.6 percent, compared to the linked quarter while loan balances increased $368.7 million, or 6.8 percent, for the full year.

Total deposits increased $187.1 million, or 3 percent, from the linked quarter; and $346.2 million, or 5.6 percent, for the full year.

First Financial Chief Executive Officer Claude Davis said the company was pleased to report the company’s 105th consecutive quarter of profitability.

First Financial Bancorp, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, has $8.4 billion in assets, $5.8 billion in loans, $6.5 billion in deposits and $865.2 million in shareholder’s equity. The company’s primary operating markets are in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana with 102 banking centers across those states, including five in Columbus.