Firstbank Corporation Announces Third Quarter and Year-To-Date 2013 Results

Firstbank Corporation Announces Third Quarter and Year-To-Date 2013 Results                               Highlights Include:    *For the first nine months of 2013, diluted earnings per share were $1.06,     increasing 29% from $0.82 for the first nine months of 2012   *For the third quarter of 2013, diluted earnings per share were $0.35,     increasing from $0.31 for the third quarter of 2012   *Merger related expenses recorded in the third quarter of 2013 reduced     diluted earnings per share for the quarter and nine-months by $0.07 per     share   *Provision expense in third quarter of 2013 reduced to zero due to     continued improvement in asset quality metrics and strong level of     reserves   *Non-accrual loans reduced 5% in the quarter and 30% less than year-ago;     other real estate owned reduced 14% from the prior quarter and 28% less     than year-ago   *Merger with Mercantile Bank Corporation proceeding and expected to     complete and be effective January 1, 2014   *Equity ratios remained strong with affiliate banks continuing to exceed     regulatory well-capitalized requirements  ALMA, Mich., Oct. 24, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Thomas R. Sullivan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Firstbank Corporation (Nasdaq:FBMI), announced net income of $2,869,000 for the third quarter of 2013, increasing 5.7% from $2,715,000 for the third quarter of 2012, with net income available to common shareholders of $2,869,000 in the third quarter of 2013 increasing 15.0% from $2,495,000 in the third quarter of 2012. Diluted earnings per share were $0.35 in the third quarter of 2013 compared to $0.31 in the third quarter of 2012. Returns on average assets and average equity for the third quarter of 2013 were 0. 78% and 8.6%, respectively, compared to 0.72% and 7.4% respectively in the third quarter of 2012.  For the first nine months of 2013, net income of $9,075,000 increased 20.4% from $7,536,000 for the first nine months of 2012, with net income available to common shareholders of $8,594,000 in the first nine months of 2013 increasing 32.7% from $6,476,000 in the first nine months of 2012. Diluted earnings per share were $1.06 in the first nine months of 2013 compared to $0.82 in the first nine months of 2012. Returns on average assets and average equity for the first nine months of 2013 were 0.81% and 8.5%, respectively, compared to 0.68% and 6.7% respectively in the first nine months of 2012.  Expenses of $738,000 related to the pending merger with Mercantile Bank Corporation were recorded in the third quarter of 2013. These expenses reduced after tax earnings and net income available to common shareholders by $569,000 for both the third quarter of 2013 and the nine months ended September 30, 2013. Correspondingly, they reduced diluted earnings per share for both periods by $0.07 per share.  Mr. Sullivan stated, "We continued to make great progress on reducing non-accrual loans and other real estate owned. Resolving these situations and getting these non-performing assets removed from our balance sheet allow our lending staff to focus more on developing new relationships and serving existing good customers. We have achieved growth in portfolio loans for two consecutive quarters, which helps our earning asset mix and is a sign of an improving economic environment. However, we do continue to experience more competitive pricing pressure on new and renewed loans, and the improvement in mix in the quarter was not quite enough to offset the pricing pressure. Therefore, we did see a decline in earning asset yield in the quarter. With continued improvement in mix, we would expect to see this negative trend in yield reverse and become positive.  "We are proceeding with the previously announced merger with Mercantile Bank Corporation and expect to complete the merger effective January 1, 2014, subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals. Strong improvement in our earnings and asset quality metrics, and our exciting plans for the future are the result of much hard work and dedication to our customers and company by our wonderful staff, and we thank them for their efforts."  Provision for Loan Losses. The provision for loan losses was zero in the third quarter of 2013, compared to the $552,000 amount required in the second quarter of 2013 and the $1,364,000 amount in the year-ago third quarter. Net charge-offs of only $630,000 in the third quarter and the strong level of allowance for loan losses made it unnecessary to provide additional amounts to the allowance in the quarter.  Net Interest Income. Net interest income, at $12,855,000 in the third quarter of 2013 was 5.1%, lower than in the third quarter of 2012, as a result of a 17 basis point lower net interest margin compared to the year-ago quarter. Net interest margin in the third quarter of 2013 decreased to 3.82% from 3.89% in the second quarter of 2013. Average portfolio loans grew in the second quarter of 2013, but competitive pricing pressure continued to force yields lower on new and renewed loans. The yield on average earning assets decreased by 8 basis points, to 4.26% in the third quarter of 2013 from 4.34% in the second quarter of 2013. The cost of funds to average earning assets declined by 1 basis point, to 0.44% in the third quarter of 2013 from 0.45% in the second quarter of 2013.  Non-interest Income. Total non-interest income, at $2,486,000 in the third quarter of 2013, was 17.6% lower than in the third quarter of 2012, as the anticipated slowdown in mortgage refinance volume materialized. Gain on sale of mortgages, at $894,000 in the third quarter of 2013, decreased 39.1% compared to the second quarter of 2013 and was 46.2% less than the year-ago level. The category of "other" non-interest income, at $444,000 in the third quarter of 2013, was 7.7% less than the amount in the second quarter of 2013, primarily due to reduced CD early withdrawal fees and $40,000 loss on sale of fixed assets related to the sale of former branch properties. This category of "other" non-interest income was 9.6% more than in the third quarter of 2012, primarily due to gain on sale of other real estate of $107,000 in the third quarter of 2013 compared to $64,000 in the third quarter of 2012.  Non-interest Expense. Total non-interest expense, at $11,247,000 in the third quarter of 2013, was 1.6% lower than the level in the third quarter of 2012, even with the above mentioned merger related expenses included, and salaries and employee benefits were 1.0% less than in the third quarter of 2012. Occupancy and equipment costs were 5.4% more than the amount in last year's third quarter mostly due to upgrades of computer equipment. FDIC insurance premium expense, at $233,000 in the third quarter of 2013, was 12.1% less than the level in the third quarter of 2012 due to the timing of expense recognition related to the FDIC's change in methodology for assessing premiums based on assets rather than deposits. The category of "other" non-interest expense, totaling $3,050,000 in the third quarter of 2013 included a $250,000 expense for adding to the reserve for potential put-back claims related to mortgages previously sold in the secondary market. This reserve now stands at $1 million. In spite of this additional expense, the category of "other" non-interest expense decreased 22.3% compared to the third quarter of 2012, as write-downs of valuations of other real estate owned (OREO) included in the category were $48,000 in the third quarter of 2013, well below the $341,000 amount in the third quarter of 2012, and expenses related to the maintenance of OREO properties declined to $95,000 compared to $172,000.  Total Assets. Total assets of Firstbank Corporation at September 30, 2013, were $1.477 billion, a decrease of 0.3% from year-ago. Total portfolio loans of $982 million increased 0.8% from the level at June 30, 2013, and reached a level 0.5% above year-ago. Commercial and commercial real estate loans increased 2.0% in the third quarter of 2013, and were 1.1% more than year ago, and real estate construction loans decreased 11.9% from year ago, including a 10.7% decrease in the third quarter of 2013. Residential mortgage loans increased 0.5% in the third quarter of 2013, and were 1.0% more than year ago. Consumer loans increased 1.8% in the third quarter of 2013 and were 3.9% above year ago. Firstbank continues to have ample capital and funding resources to increase loans on its balance sheet. Total deposits as of September 30, 2013, were $1.230 billion, compared to $1.225 billion at September 30, 2012, an increase of 0.4%. Core deposits at September 30, 2013, were 0.7% above the year-ago level, and they increased $22.7 million in the third quarter of 2013, mostly in interest bearing demand deposits.  Net Charge-offs. Net charge-offs were $630,000 in the third quarter of 2013, decreasing from $1,161,000 in the second quarter of 2013 and decreasing from $1,554,000 in the third quarter of 2012. In the third quarter of 2013, net charge-offs annualized represented 0.26% of average loans, down significantly from 0.48% in the second quarter of 2013 and 0.63% in the third quarter of 2012.  Allowance and Asset Quality. Asset quality metrics continued to improve in the third quarter of 2013, indicating a lesser need for reserves. At the end of the third quarter of 2013 the ratio of the allowance for loan losses to loans was 2.00%, compared to 2.08% at June 30, 2013, and 2.18% at September 30, 2012. Performing adjusted loans (troubled debt restructurings, or TDRs) were $20,170,000 at September 30, 2013, compared to $21,815,000 at June 30, 2013, and $19,619,000 at September 30, 2012. Loans past due over 90 days and accruing interest were $26,000 at September 30, 2013, compared to $18,000 at June 30, 2013, and reduced from the $655,000 amount at September 30, 2012. Non-accrual loans were $11,204,000 at September 30, 2013, a decrease of 5.4% from the level at June 30, 2013, and a decrease of 30.5% from the $16,118,000 amount at September 30, 2012.  Other real estate owned decreased to $2,161,000 at September 30, 2013, compared to the $2,504,000 level at June 30, 2013, and was down 28% from the $3,001,000 level at September 30, 2012.  Equity to Assets Ratio. The ratio of average equity to average assets remained a strong 9.1% in the third quarter of 2013. The decline in this ratio from 9.7% in the third quarter of 2012 reflects the repurchase and retirement of all remaining preferred stock outstanding during the second quarter of 2013, as reported previously. Firstbank Corporation's affiliate banks continue to meet or exceed regulatory well-capitalized requirements.  Firstbank Corporation, headquartered in Alma, Michigan, is a bank holding company using a community bank local decision-making format with assets of $1.5 billion and 46 banking offices serving Michigan's Lower Peninsula. Firstbank Corporation has a pending merger with the similarly sized Mercantile Bank Corporation.  Important Information for Investors  Communications in this press release do not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any securities or a solicitation of any vote or approval. The proposed merger and issuance of Mercantile Bank Corporation common stock in connection with the proposed merger will be submitted to Mercantile's shareholders for their consideration, and the proposed merger will be submitted to Firstbank's shareholders for their consideration. On September 17, 2013 Mercantile filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") a registration statement on Form S-4 that includes a preliminary joint proxy statement to be used by Mercantile and Firstbank to solicit the required approval of their respective shareholders in connection with the proposed merger, and will constitute a prospectus of Mercantile. Mercantile and Firstbank may also file other documents with the SEC concerning the proposed merger. INVESTORS AND SECURITY HOLDERS OF MERCANTILE AND FIRSTBANK ARE URGED TO READ THE JOINT PROXY STATEMENT AND PROSPECTUS REGARDING THE PROPOSED MERGER AND OTHER RELEVANT DOCUMENTS THAT HAVE BEEN AND WILL BE FILED WITH THE SEC CAREFULLY AND IN THEIR ENTIRETY WHEN THEY BECOME AVAILABLE BECAUSE THEY WILL CONTAIN IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE PROPOSED MERGER. Investors and security holders may obtain a free copy of the joint proxy statement and prospectus and other documents containing important information about Mercantile and Firstbank, once such documents are filed with the SEC, through the website maintained by the SEC at www.sec.gov. Copies of documents filed with the SEC by Firstbank will be available free of charge on Firstbank's website at www.firstbankmi.com under the tab "Investor Relations." or by contacting Samuel Stone, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at (989) 466-7325. Copies of the documents filed with the SEC by Mercantile will be available free of charge on Mercantile's website at www.mercbank.com under the tab "Investor Relations." or by contacting Charles Christmas, Chief Financial Officer, at 616-726-1202.  Participants in the Transaction  Firstbank, Mercantile and certain of their respective directors and executive officers may be deemed to be participants in the solicitation of proxies from the shareholders of Mercantile and Firstbank in connection with the proposed transaction. Information about the directors and executive officers of Firstbank is set forth in its proxy statement for its 2013 annual meeting of shareholders, which was filed with the SEC on March 15, 2013. Information about the directors and executive officers of Mercantile is set forth in its proxy statement for its 2013 annual meeting of shareholders, which was filed with the SEC on March 15, 2013. These documents can be obtained free of charge from the sources indicated above. Other information regarding the participants in the proxy solicitation and a description of their direct and indirect interests, by security holdings or otherwise, will be contained in the joint proxy statement and prospectus and other relevant materials to be filed with the SEC.  This press release contains certain forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. When used in this press release the words "anticipate," "believe," "expect," "hopeful," "potential," "should," and similar expressions identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, future business growth, changes in interest rates, loan charge-off rates, demand for new loans, future profitability, and the resolution of problem loans. Such statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties which could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to, economic, competitive, governmental, regulatory and technological factors affecting the Company's operations, markets, products, services, interest rates and fees for services. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this press release.  FIRSTBANK CORPORATION CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF INCOME (Dollars in thousands except per share data) UNAUDITED                                                                                                      Three Months Ended:     Nine Months Ended:                                    Sep 30  Jun 30  Sep 30  Sep 30    Sep 30                                    2013    2013    2012    2013      2012 Interest income:                                                   Interest and fees on loans          $13,012 $13,399 $14,145 $39,695   $43,206 Investment securities                                              Taxable                             894     865     1,104   2,721     3,508 Exempt from federal income tax      441     432     272     1,244     845 Short term investments              36      55      53      146       161 Total interest income               14,383  14,751  15,574  43,806    47,720                                                                   Interest expense:                                                  Deposits                            1,190   1,237   1,588   3,777     5,198 Notes payable and other borrowing   338     323     444     971       1,374 Total interest expense              1,528   1,560   2,032   4,748     6,572                                                                   Net interest income                 12,855  13,191  13,542  39,058    41,148 Provision for loan losses           0       552     1,364   1,830     6,352 Net interest income after provision 12,855  12,639  12,178  37,228    34,796 for loan losses                                                                   Noninterest income:                                                Gain on sale of mortgage loans      894     1,467   1,661   3,922     4,816 Service charges on deposit accounts 1,043   1,044   1,048   3,107     3,166 Gain on trading account securities  (4)     6       (5)     2         1 Gain on sale of AFS securities      0       2       2       52        42 Mortgage servicing                  109     (27)    (95)    (54)      (174) Other                               444     481     405     1,325     1,408 Total noninterest income            2,486   2,973   3,016   8,354     9,259                                                                   Noninterest expense:                                               Salaries and employee benefits      5,805   5,705   5,865   17,428    17,003 Occupancy and equipment             1,335   1,327   1,267   4,021     3,912 Amortization of intangibles         86      103     109     291       380 FDIC insurance premium              233     276     265     768       964 Other                               3,050   3,496   3,923   9,509     11,249 Merger related expense              738                   738        Total noninterest expense           11,247  10,907  11,429  32,755    33,508                                                                   Income before federal income taxes  4,094   4,705   3,765   12,827    10,547 Federal income taxes                1,225   1,362   1,050   3,752     3,011 Net Income                          2,869   3,343   2,715   9,075     7,536 Preferred Stock Dividends           0       266     220     481       1,060 Net Income available to Common      $2,869  $3,077  $2,495  $8,594    $6,476 Shareholders                                                                   Fully Tax Equivalent Net Interest   $13,122 $13,438 $13,719 $39,792   $41,638 Income                                                                   Per Share Data:                                                    Basic Earnings                      $0.36   $0.38   $0.31   $1.07     $0.82 Diluted Earnings                    $0.35   $0.38   $0.31   $1.06     $0.82 Dividends Paid                      $0.06   $0.06   $0.01   $0.18     $0.08                                                                   Performance Ratios:                                                Return on Average Assets (a)        0.78%   0.90%   0.72%   0.81%     0.68% Return on Average Equity (a)        8.6%    9.1%    7.4%    8.5%      6.7% Net Interest Margin (FTE) (a)       3.82%   3.89%   3.99%   3.85%     4.02% Book Value Per Share (b)            $16.75  $16.41  $16.24  $16.75    $16.24 Tangible Book Value per Share (b)   $12.27  $11.92  $11.64  $12.27    $11.64 Average Equity/Average Assets       9.1%    9.8%    9.7%    9.6%      10.2% Net Charge-offs                     $630    $1,161  $1,554  $3,561    $6,039 Net Charge-offs as a % of Average   0.26%   0.48%   0.63%   0.49%     0.82% Loans (c)(a)                                                                   (a)Annualized                                                     (b)Period End                                           `          (c)Total loans less loans held for                                sale   FIRSTBANK CORPORATION CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS (Dollars in thousands) UNAUDITED                                                                                                    Sep 30     Jun 30     Dec 31     Sep 30                                   2013       2013       2012       2012 ASSETS                                                                                                                             Cash and cash equivalents:                                        Cash and due from banks            $30,384    $14,132    $38,544    $29,710 Short term investments             31,019     40,298     63,984     45,192 Total cash and cash equivalents    61,403     54,430     102,528    74,902                                                                  Securities available for sale      357,429    351,022    353,684    350,231 Federal Home Loan Bank stock       7,266      7,266      7,266      7,266 Loans:                                                            Loans held for sale                732        992        2,921      3,813 Portfolio loans:                                                  Commercial                         159,199    155,787    149,265    151,252 Commercial real estate             363,059    356,137    357,831    365,402 Residential mortgage               340,877    339,054    331,896    337,587 Real estate construction           49,215     55,138     58,530     55,855 Consumer                           69,936     68,688     66,240     67,314 Total portfolio loans              982,286    974,804    963,762    977,410 Less allowance for loan losses     (19,608)   (20,239)   (21,340)   (21,332) Net portfolio loans                962,678    954,565    942,422    956,078                                                                  Premises and equipment, net        23,893     24,322     24,356     24,926 Goodwill                           35,513     35,513     35,513     35,513 Other intangibles                  675        761        965        1,068 Other assets                       27,362     28,175     29,107     28,313 TOTAL ASSETS                       $1,476,951 $1,457,046 $1,498,762 $1,482,110                                                                  LIABILITIES AND SHAREHOLDERS'                                     EQUITY                                                                  LIABILITIES                                                                                                                        Deposits:                                                         Noninterest bearing accounts       $259,946   $251,742   $251,109   $229,437 Interest bearing accounts:                                        Demand                             359,926    338,168    348,598    348,712 Savings                            276,783    273,921    265,323    262,314 Time                               317,440    327,596    358,791    365,745 Wholesale CD's                     16,021     16,875     17,580     18,653 Total deposits                     1,230,116  1,208,302  1,241,401  1,224,861                                                                  Securities sold under agreements to repurchase and overnight        47,333     43,661     42,785     45,927 borrowings FHLB Advances and notes payable    19,861     27,862     22,493     19,558 Subordinated Debt                  36,084     36,084     36,084     36,084 Accrued interest and other         8,242      8,693      8,941      9,591 liabilities Total liabilities                  1,341,636  1,324,602  1,351,704  1,336,021                                                                  SHAREHOLDERS' EQUITY                                              Preferred stock; no par value, 300,000 shares authorized, 33,000  0          0          16,908     16,904 outstanding Common stock; 20,000,000 shares    116,466    116,369    115,621    115,228 authorized Retained earnings                  18,064     15,679     10,921     9,812 Accumulated other comprehensive    785        396        3,608      4,145 income Total shareholders' equity         135,315    132,444    147,058    146,089 TOTAL LIABILITIES AND              $1,476,951 $1,457,046 $1,498,762 $1,482,110 SHAREHOLDERS' EQUITY                                                                  Common stock shares issued and     8,076,621  8,070,268  8,001,903  7,952,502 outstanding Principal Balance of Loans         $609.1     $609.9     $608.2     $594.8 Serviced for Others ($mil)                                                                  Asset Quality Information:                                        Performing Adjusted Loans (TDRs)   20,170    21,815    20,720    19,619 (b) Loans Past Due over 90 Days        26        18        37        655 Non-Accrual Loans                  11,204    11,849    15,668    16,118 Other Real Estate Owned            2,161      2,504      2,925      3,001 Allowance for Loan Loss as a % of  2.00%      2.08%      2.21%      2.18% Loans (a)                                                                  Quarterly Average Balances:                                       Total Portfolio Loans (a)          $977,069   $965,722   $968,509   $982,144 Total Earning Assets               1,366,068  1,384,833 1,381,004 1,371,768 Total Shareholders' Equity         133,557    146,755   145,186   143,805 Total Assets                       1,471,510  1,489,905  1,496,135  1,483,546 Diluted Shares Outstanding         8,134,948  8,118,717  7,994,996  7,987,968                                                                  (a) Total Loans less loans held                                   for sale (b) Troubled Debt Restructurings                                  in Call Reports  CONTACT: Samuel G. Stone          Executive Vice President and          Chief Financial Officer          (989) 466-7325  
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