CLINTON, N.J., Jan. 29, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Unity Bancorp, inc. (Nasdaq:UNTY), parent company of Unity Bank, reported net income available to common shareholders of $1.7 million, or $0.20 per diluted share, for the three months ended December 31, 2014, a 34.4% increase compared to net income available to common shareholders of $1.3 million, or $0.17 per diluted share, for the same period a year ago. Return on average assets and average common equity for the quarter were 0.70% and 9.78%, respectively, compared to 0.57% and 8.87% for the same period a year ago.

Highlights include:

  • Robust loan growth of 12.2% since December 31, 2013 – 28.1% growth in consumer loans, 21.3% growth in residential mortgage loans and 10.6% growth in commercial loans.
  • Strong deposit growth of 7.5% since December 31, 2013 due to savings and noninterest-bearing demand deposit growth.
  • Core earnings growth – 11.7% increase in net interest income compared to the prior year's quarter due to strong loan growth.
  • Net interest margin of 3.49% this quarter compared to 3.42% in the prior year's quarter.
  • Improved credit quality metrics due to a 25.6% decrease in nonperforming loans compared to the prior year's quarter.

"This was a year of solid performance for Unity," reported James A. Hughes, President and CEO. "Our strong loan and deposit growth in 2014 was the result of our commitment to being the best financial service provider in the markets that we serve. Our exceptional employees provide remarkable service on a daily basis to ensure a loyal and happy customer base. It is this commitment to excellence which drives our success. We are in great markets, and have a wide array of financial productsthat are delivered by our highly motivated team of professionals. In 2015, I am convinced that we will build on what we have achieved and that our financial performance will continue to significantly strengthen. We are eagerly awaiting the challenges of tomorrow."

For the year ended December 31, 2014, net income available to common shareholders totaled $6.4 million, or $0.81 per diluted share, compared to $4.1 million or $0.53 per diluted share in the prior period. Return on average assets and average common equity for the twelve month periods were 0.70% and 10.28%, respectively, compared to 0.61% and 7.22% for the same period a year ago.

Net Interest Income

Net interest income increased $825 thousand to $7.9 million for the quarter and increased $2.7 million to $30.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2014 compared to the prior year's periods. The increases in each period were the result of momentum from the strong growth in commercial, residential mortgage and consumer loan volume. Quarterly average commercial loans increased $44.3 million, average residential mortgage loans increased $40.1 million and consumer loans increased $12.2 million compared to the comparable quarter in 2013. The increase in interest income for the quarter and year to date was due to a larger loan portfolio, offset by a smaller investment portfolio and the increase in interest paid on deposits.

The net interest margin increased 7 basis points to 3.49% for the quarter ended December 31, 2014 compared to 3.42% the prior year's quarter. For the year, the net interest margin remained stable at 3.53%. We expect net interest income to continue to expand in future quarters due to strong loan growth as our net interest margin remains stable.

Provision for Loan Losses

The provision for loan losses was $850 thousand for the quarter and $2.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2014, compared to $800 thousand and $2.4 million for the comparable prior year periods. The increase was due to elevated levels of charge-offs.

Noninterest Income

Noninterest income increased $189 thousand to $1.7 million for the three months ended December 31, 2014, compared to the same period last year. Quarterly noninterest income increased due to gains on the sale of SBA loans and gains on the sale of securities, partially offset by declines in branch fee income. For the year ended December 31, 2014, noninterest income increased $75 thousand or 1.1% to $6.7 million.

SBA loan sales totaled $4.0 million with net gains on sale of $342 thousand for the quarter. There were no loan sales during the fourth quarter 2013. For the year, SBA loan sales totaled $10.4 million with net gains of $975 thousand in 2014 and $6.3 million with net gains on sale of $628 thousand in 2013.

Quarterly gains on the sale of mortgage loans were stable. During the fourth quarter, $14.1 million in residential mortgage loans were sold at a gain of $323 thousand, compared to $15.8 million sold at a gain of $312 thousand during the prior year's quarter. Approximately $4.0 million of the sold loans were previously originated 30 year fixed rate loans in our portfolio that were sold to reduce interest rate risk. For the twelve month period, $59.2 million in residential mortgage loans were sold at a gain of $1.1 million, compared to $78.4 million sold at a gain of $1.7 million during the prior year's period. All residential mortgage loans originated in 2014 that are held in portfolio for investment are adjustable rate mortgages or 15 year fully amortizing mortgages.

Security gains totaled $55 thousand for the quarter, compared to $22 thousand in the prior year's quarter. For the year, security gains totaled $433 thousand versus $390 thousand in the prior year.

Branch fee income, which consists of service charges and overdraft fees, declined $50 thousand and $36 thousand in the quarterly and annual periods, respectively. The decreases were due to a lower volume of overdraft fees.

For the twelve months ended December 31, 2014, BOLI income increased $212 thousand due to a death benefit.

Service and loan fee income decreased for the quarter and year to date periods due to lower SBA loan servicing income as the volume of serviced loans declined. During the twelve month period, reduced late charges, payoff and prepayment penalties were partially offset by increased processing fees.

Noninterest Expense

Noninterest expense increased $183 thousand to $6.0 million for the quarter and $691 thousand to $24.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2014. The primary drivers of the increases during both periods were compensation, processing and communications, furniture and equipment and advertising expenses. Details of significant fluctuations are below.

  • Compensation and benefits expenses increased in both periods primarily due to higher salary expense as we expanded our commercial lending staff, increased our year-end bonus accruals and realized increased benefits costs such as medical insurance.
  • Occupancy expenses declined in both periods. For the quarterly period, depreciation on leasehold improvements, snow removal and property repairs and maintenance fell compared to the prior year. For the annual period, occupancy expenses fell due to lower rental expense and leasehold improvement depreciation as a result of purchasing three of our previously leased locations.
  • Processing and communications expenses continued to expand as we added products and services to remain competitive. This category includes the rising costs of providing our customers with products and services such as electronic banking, online bill payment, and ATM/debit cards. In addition, it includes the associated rise in data processing costs of our core banking system and electronic access expenses such as communication line costs.
  • Furniture and equipment expense increased during each period due to rising costs of technology such as computer network and software maintenance costs.
  • Advertising expenses increased in both periods due to the use of television and radio media, core deposit promotional expenses as well as seasonal involvement in various community events.
  • OREO expenses decreased this quarter but remained slightly elevated for the twelve month period as we worked through the collection process and incurred expenses such as property maintenance and legal costs, as well as delinquent taxes and losses on sale.

Financial Condition

At December 31, 2014, total assets were $1.0 billion, an increase of $87.7 million from the prior year-end:

  • Total securities decreased $27.4 million or 25.5%, from year-end to $80.1 million at December 31, 2014. During the year, we strategically sold longer dated investments in order to reduce the portfolio's average life and duration.
  • Total loans increased $83.1 million or 12.2%, from year-end 2013 to $761.8 million at December 31, 2014. The majority of the growth came in our residential mortgage, commercial and consumer loan portfolios which increased $38.8 million, $38.6 million and $13.0 million, respectively.
  • Total deposits increased $55.6 million or 7.5%, to $794.3 million at December 31, 2014, due primarily to an increase in savings, noninterest-bearing demand deposits and time deposits partially offset by a decline in interest-bearing demand deposits. Savings deposits increased due to our promotion during the third and fourth quarters while time deposits have increased in response to our 15 month and 5 year term promotions. The noninterest-bearing demand deposits increase consists of commercial deposit customer relationships.
  • Shareholders' equity was $70.1 million at December 31, 2014, an increase of $13.0 million from year-end 2013, due primarily to the $6.2 million net proceeds from the rights offering plus year-to-date net income less the dividends paid.
  • Book value per common share was $8.36 as of December 31, 2014.
  • At December 31, 2014, the leverage, Tier I and Total Risk Based Capital ratios were 8.71%, 11.57% and 12.83% respectively, all in excess of the ratios required to be deemed "well-capitalized".

Credit Quality

  • Nonperforming assets totaled $12.5 million at December 31, 2014, or 1.64% of total loans and OREO, compared to $15.9 million or 2.34% of total loans and OREO at year-end 2013. During the quarter the Company transferred four loans into nonaccrual totaling approximately $3.1 million.
  • Accruing troubled debt restructurings ("TDRs") decreased $3.9 million from year-end to $3.5 million. This decrease was due to the transfer of three loans totaling approximately $3.0 million into nonaccrual status during the year and principal pay downs. There have been no new TDRs recognized in 2014.
  • OREO increased $529 thousand to $1.2 million at December 31, 2014.
  • The allowance for loan losses totaled $12.6 million at December 31, 2014, or 1.65% of total loans compared to $13.1 million and 1.94% at December 31, 2013.
  • Net charge-offs were $1.2 million for the three months ended December 31, 2014, consistent with the same period a year ago. For the twelve months ended December 31, 2014, net charge-offs were $3.1 million compared to $4.0 million at December 31, 2013.

Unity Bancorp, Inc. is a financial service organization headquartered in Clinton, New Jersey, with approximately $1.0 billion in assets and $794 million in deposits. Unity Bank provides financial services to retail, corporate and small business customers through its 15 retail service centers located in Hunterdon, Middlesex, Somerset, Union and Warren Counties in New Jersey and Northampton County, Pennsylvania. For additional information about Unity, visit our website at www.unitybank.com, or call 800-618-BANK.

This news release contains certain forward-looking statements, either expressed or implied, which are provided to assist the reader in understanding anticipated future financial performance. These statements may be identified by use of the words "believe", "expect", "intend", "anticipate", "estimate", "project" or similar expressions. These statements involve certain risks, uncertainties, estimates and assumptions made by management, which are subject to factors beyond the company's control and could impede its ability to achieve these goals. These factors include those items included in our Annual Report on Form 10-K under the heading "Item IA-Risk Factors" as well as general economic conditions, trends in interest rates, the ability of our borrowers to repay their loans, our ability to manage and reduce the level of our nonperforming assets, and results of regulatory exams, among other factors.

This communication does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any securities, nor shall there be any sale of securities in any jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of such jurisdiction.

January 29 2015