First Financial profits continue upward trend

First Financial Bancorp, a bank holding company, reported its 104th consecutive quarter of profitability in its third quarter results announced recently.

The Cincinnati-based company, which has branches in Columbus, reported net income of $22.9 million, or 37 cents per diluted common share, for the three months ending Sept. 30.

This compared to net income of $22.6 million, or 36 cents per diluted common share, for the second quarter of 2016, and $18.7 million, or 30 cents per diluted common share for the third quarter of 2015.

For the nine months ending Sept. 30, First Financial had earnings per diluted share of $1.05 compared to 89 cents for the same period in 2015.

Third quarter highlights included:

Loans increased $88.3 million, or 6.2 percent, on an annualized basis, from the linked quarter

Stable net interest margin of 3.61 percent; 3.66 percent on a fully tax equivalent basis

Return on average assets for the third quarter was 1.09 percent while return on average tangible common equity was 14.08 percent.

Provision expense declined $2.4 million consistent with stable credit quality.

Claude Davis, First Financial’s chief executive officer, said solid demand in the bank’s metropolitan markets resulted in annualized loan growth of 6.2 percent for the quarter.

“Net interest margin remained stable and our third quarter results reflect continued discipline in managing expenses as well as a steady credit environment,” Davis said.

As of Sept. 30, the company had $8.4 billion in assets, $5.8 billion in loans, $6.3 billion in deposits and $861.1 million in shareholder equity.