First BanCorp., the bank holding company for FirstBank Puerto Rico, reported Thursday net income of $17.1 million for the first quarter of 2014, or $0.08 per diluted share, compared to $14.8 million, or $0.07 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2013 and a net loss of $72.6 million, or $0.35 per diluted share, for the first quarter of 2013.
Pre-tax, pre-provision income of $56.9 million, an increase of $9.3 million, compared to $47.6 million for the fourth quarter of 2013.
Meanwhile, the bank’s non-performing assets showed a slight increase amounting to $730.7 million compared to $725.4 million as of Dec. 31, 2013, an increase of less than 1 percent, the report showed.
Non-performing loans, including non-performing loans held for sale, increased by $26.2 million, or 5 percent, from the fourth quarter of 2013 to $576.5 million, impacted by one large commercial mortgage relationship of $23.3 million that had been adversely classified in prior periods.
“Our main focus for 2014 continues to be asset quality as we continue to face economic headwinds in Puerto Rico. We are pleased with our core operating performance during the first quarter achieving improvements in our core franchise metrics; net income improved to $17.1 million, or 15.5 percent, from $14.8 million in the fourth quarter, pre-tax pre-provision income improved to $56.9 million, or 19.5 percent, from $47.6 million in the fourth quarter mainly driven by our expense management initiatives and reduction in credit cost,” said First BanCorp President Aurelio Alemán.
“We also achieved slight expansion in our net interest margin due to higher yields on our commercial loan portfolio. We continue to strengthen our franchise through growth in core deposits as our non-brokered deposits, excluding government deposits, increased $102.2 million to $6.1 billion,” he said.
Government deposits increased by $36.1 million to $741.9 million as of March 31, 2014 from $705.8 million as of December 31, 2013. As of March 31, 2014, the Corporation had $550.3 million of government deposits in Puerto Rico and $191.6 million in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
While the bank’s core metrics continue to improve, it is still addressing its remaining legacy credits, he said.
Total non-performing assets increased by $5.3 million this quarter, while non-performing assets to total assets ratio remained flat at 5.7 percent. However, no sales of non-performing loans held for sale were completed in the last two quarters.
“Our provision and net charge-offs increased this quarter largely due to the write-downs of collateral, mainly driven by updated appraisals associated with four commercial loans in Puerto Rico and de-risking activity in our adversely classified book,” he said.
“We remain focused on our dual track of improving franchise metrics and credit quality as we continue to strengthen our capital position with earnings generation contributing to our strong capital base,” Alemán noted. “We are optimistic about the steps taken by the government to address the fiscal situation and with the initiatives to stabilize the economy.”