First BanCorp. reported net income of $43.3 million, or $0.20 per diluted share, for the first quarter ended Mar. 31, 2019, compared to $101.1 million, or $0.46 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2018, and $33.1 million, or $0.15 per diluted share, for the first quarter of 2018.
The fourth quarter of 2018 results included a $53.3 million net tax benefit related to a $63.2 million one-time benefit resulting from the partial reversal of the corporation’s deferred tax asset valuation allowance, partially offset by a one-time, non-cash charge of $9.9 million related to the enactment of the Puerto Rico Tax Reform of 2018.
“We continued our momentum from last year into the first quarter of 2019 with net income of $43.3 million, pre-tax, pre-provision income reaching $70.4 million, and our margin climbing to 4.92%. Our tangible book value is now $9.32 per share,” said First BanCorp. President Aurelio Alemán.
The executive said each of the financial institution’s metrics continued to move in a positive direction.
The bank’s loan portfolio grew $128.7 million to more than $9 billion this quarter, the highest level in several years, with continued reductions in non-performing loans.
Loan originations and renewals were “healthy,” he said, at $971 million for the first quarter and consistent with the bank’s strategies.
“We experienced good growth in the commercial and consumer portfolios,” he said.
During a call with analysts to discuss the recent results, Alemán said “we have been very pleased with the level of economic activity and the strength of the consumer, the consumer demand for loans and the behaviors of the portfolios in terms of payments.”
Net of non-performing loan reductions, First BanCorp.’s performing loan book grew approximately $180 million.
The company continued the organic reduction of non-performing assets, down $52 million or 11% this quarter and now representing 3.35% of assets.
“We grew our core deposits, net of brokered CDs and government by $124 million. Also, important to note, our total non-interest-bearing deposits grew $99 million this quarter,” he said.
During the call, Alemán attributed its growth in deposits, lending activity and services to the results of a recent third-party market perception study that gave its subsidiary, FirstBank, top scores, “and overall satisfaction when compared to two local peers.”
He also noted the corporation’s investments in technology as another reason for growth. The bank rolled out a new mobile and desktop application, with more deposit capabilities in the U.S. Virgin Island during the first quarter and will do the same in Puerto Rico during the second quarter.