First Busey's second-quarter earnings up 12.5 percent

First Busey's second-quarter earnings up 12.5 percent

CHAMPAIGN — Busey Bank's parent company reported a 12.5 percent increase in earnings for the quarter that ended June 30, compared with the same period a year ago.

Champaign-based First Busey Corp. on Tuesday revealed that second-quarter net income totaled $8.19 million, up 10 percent from $7.44 million in the second quarter of 2013.

For stockholders, that resulted in earnings of 9 cents per share, up from 8 cents per share for the same quarter a year ago.

The company said the improved results were partly due to a reduction in preferred-stock dividends it had to pay out. But the improvements also resulted from lower operating expenses, including reductions in salaries and wages.

First Busey said all three of its operating units — Busey Bank, Busey Wealth Management and the Firs Tech retail payment-processing subsidiary — saw increases in net income of 15 percent or more when compared with the same quarter a year earlier.

In a message to shareholders, President and CEO Van A. Dukeman said he was encouraged by loan growth in the second quarter. He also said retail branch transactions increased during the quarter, "representing positive customer trends and recovery from the harsh winter."

Gross loans increased to $2.32 billion as of June 30, up from $2.16 billion a year earlier, and commercial loans on June 30 were up 10 percent from a year earlier. Mortgage production nearly doubled from the first quarter to the second quarter.

As had been noted previously, strong loan growth last year gave the company enough Small Business Lending Fund credits to sharply reduce the costs of dividends paid out on preferred stock.

For the first six months of this year, First Busey had to pay out only about $400,000 in preferred-stock dividends, compared with $1.8 million for the same six months in 2013.

But the company also worked to cut costs. Almost every category of expense in the second quarter was down from the same quarter a year ago. The only exception was data-processing expense. Part of the increase there was related to supporting new sources of revenue growth at FirsTech, Dukeman said.

First Busey on Friday will pay a cash dividend of 5 cents per common share to stockholders of record as of July 18. That would be a 25 percent increase from the 4-cent dividend paid in July 2013.

First Busey's stock trades on the Nasdaq exchange under the BUSE symbol. Busey Bank has 28 banking centers in central Illinois, plus one in Indianapolis and seven in southwest Florida.

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