Updated: First Busey net income drops for fourth quarter, all of 2012

Updated 5:24 p.m. Tuesday.

CHAMPAIGN — First Busey Corp.'s net income for the fourth quarter of 2012 dropped 14 percent from a year earlier, the company reported Tuesday.

Meanwhile, net income for full-year 2012 fell 25 percent from the previous year.

First Busey CEO Van Dukeman said fourth-quarter results were affected in part by costs related to branch closings. Full-year results were affected by higher salaries, wages and employee benefits.

But Dukeman expressed confidence that those "investments in talent" are paying off.

"Our business outreach across our footprint has increased substantially, and we are encouraged by the volumes building in our loan pipeline and the new loan growth experienced in recent quarters," he said in a release.

First Busey, the parent company of Busey Bank, reported fourth-quarter net income of $4.9 million, down from $5.7 million a year earlier.

Fully diluted earnings for the quarter were 5 cents per share, unchanged from a year earlier.

For full-year 2012, net income totaled $22.4 million, down from $29.9 million in 2011.

Fully diluted earnings for the year were 22 cents per share, down from 29 cents per share in 2011.

Salaries, wages and employee benefits totaled $64.8 million in 2012, up 22 percent from 2011.

Some of that increase was related to the formation of Trevett Capital Partners, a division of Busey Bank that will provide wealth management services to wealthy clients in southwest Florida.

But the company said it also spent money on people to promote its fee-based wealth, payment processing and cash management business in the Midwest.

Dukeman said First Busey re-examined its business late in the year, deciding to grow in some areas and shrink in others.

Those decisions, he said, were based on what the company perceived as its "strongest path for broad-based future strength, profitability and growth."

Busey closed two limited-service branches and a full-service branch at the end of the fourth quarter and finalized plans to close four more branches this spring, Dukeman said.

"Our research indicated customer usage patterns at those facilities were duplicated by other nearby branches," he said.

Gross loans at year's end were up about 1 percent from a year earlier. Non-performing loans were down sharply from a year earlier, but up slightly from the end of the third quarter.

Net income for First Busey's largest subsidiary, Busey Bank, was $4.3 million in 2012, down from $5.5 million in 2011.

But net income for two other subsidiaries — Busey Wealth Management and the FirsTech retail payment processing subsidiary — was higher in 2012 than in 2011.

Busey Bank has 30 full-service and two limited-service branches in Illinois, one full-service office in Indianapolis and seven full-service offices in southwest Florida.

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