Press Release

Western New England Bancorp, Inc. Reports Year End 2018 Results

Announces a 25% increase in the quarterly common stock dividend and a new 10% share repurchase plan

Company Release - 1/29/2019 3:55 PM ET

WESTFIELD, Mass., Jan. 29, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Western New England Bancorp, Inc. (the “Company” or “WNEB”) (NasdaqGS: WNEB), the holding company for Westfield Bank (the “Bank”), announced today the unaudited results of operations for the three and twelve months ended December 31, 2018.

For the three months ended December 31, 2018, the Company reported net income of $3.8 million, or $0.14 earnings per diluted share, compared to a net loss of $353,000, or $0.01 loss per diluted share, for the three months ended December 31, 2017.  On a linked quarter basis, net income of $3.8 million, or $0.14 earnings per diluted share, decreased $67,000, or 1.7%, from net income of $3.9 million, or $0.14 earnings per diluted share, for the three months ended September 30, 2018.  Net income increased $4.1 million, or 33.2%, from $12.3 million, or $0.41 earnings per diluted share, for the twelve months ended December 31, 2017 to $16.4 million, or $0.57 earnings per diluted share, for the twelve months ended December 31, 2018.

The Company announced that the Board of Directors declared an increase of $0.01, or 25%, in the quarterly cash dividend to $0.05 per share, payable on or about February 27, 2019 to shareholders of record on February 13, 2019. 

The Company also announced that the Board of Directors has authorized a stock repurchase plan (the “2019 Plan”) pursuant to which the Company may repurchase up to 2.8 million shares of its common stock, or approximately 10% of the Company’s outstanding shares. The 2019 Plan will commence upon the completion of the Company’s existing repurchase program.  During the three months ended December 31, 2018, the Company repurchased 1,051,360 shares at an average price of $9.97 under its current plan.  As of December 31, 2018, there were 251,333 shares available to repurchase under the previously existing plan.

“We are encouraged by our year in 2018 and focused on the work we have ahead of us,” said James C. Hagan, President and CEO of WNEB.  “Although Westfield Bank experienced a high level of prepayments, we nonetheless had positive loan growth in 2018 and we currently maintain a strong loan pipeline in 2019. We are also pleased with deposit growth of 6.0% on a year-to-year basis, especially considering the rising interest rate environment.  Customers in our communities continue to choose Westfield Bank for their financial services needs and we are sharply focused on quality growth in our markets in 2019.” Hagan added, “While the stock market was particularly volatile in the fourth quarter, we were encouraged to repurchase a significant number of our own shares at what we believe is an attractive valuation. The newly authorized repurchase program is a testament to our continued commitment to be a purchaser of our own shares at attractive levels.”

Key Highlights:

  • Loans: Total loans as of December 31, 2018 were $1.7 billion, an increase of $4.3 million, or 0.3%, from September 30, 2018, and an increase of $66.2 million, or 4.0%, from December 31, 2017.
     
  • Deposits: Total deposits decreased $13.0 million, or 0.8%, from September 30, 2018 to December 31, 2018, after increasing $57.2 million, or 3.7%, from June 30, 2018 to September 30, 2018, primarily due to seasonal activity in the third quarter. Total deposits increased $89.9 million, or 6.0%, from December 31, 2017. The loan-to-deposit ratio decreased from 108.3% at December 31, 2017 to 106.3% at December 31, 2018.
     
  • Allowance for Loan Losses and Credit Quality: Allowance for loan losses was 0.71% of total loans and 89.4% of non-performing loans at December 31, 2018. Allowance for loan losses as a percentage of loans, excluding the loans acquired from Chicopee Bancorp, Inc., (“Chicopee”) was 0.98% at December 31, 2018. Non-performing loans to total loans and non-performing loans to total assets were 0.79% and 0.64%, respectively, at December 31, 2018.
     
  • Net Interest Margin: The net interest margin was 2.97% for the three months ended December 31, 2018, compared to 2.94% for the three months ended September 30, 2018.  The net interest margin, which is stated on a fully taxable equivalent basis throughout the remainder of this release, was 2.99% for the three months ended December 31, 2018, compared to 2.96% for the three months ended September 30, 2018. Excluding the purchase accounting adjustments and prepayment penalties, the adjusted net interest margin was 2.97% for the three months ended December 31, 2018 and 2.97% for the three months ended September 30, 2018. The net interest margin for the twelve months ended December 31, 2018 was 3.08% compared to 3.12% for the twelve months ended December 31, 2017. Excluding purchase accounting adjustments and prepayment penalties, the adjusted net interest margin increased from 2.99% for the twelve months ended December 31, 2017 to 3.01% for the twelve months ended December 31, 2018.         
     
  • Capital Management: The Company’s book value per share increased $0.24, or 2.9%, from $8.11 at December 31, 2017 to $8.35 at December 31, 2018.  Tangible book value per share increased $0.21, or 2.8%, from $7.57 at December 31, 2017 to $7.78 at December 31, 2018. The Company’s and the Bank’s regulatory capital ratios continued to exceed the levels required to be considered “well-capitalized” under federal banking regulations.

Net Income for the Three Months Ended December 31, 2018 Compared to the Three Months Ended September 30, 2018
The Company reported net income of $3.8 million, or $0.14 earnings per diluted share, for the three months ended December 31, 2018, compared to net income of $3.9 million, or $0.14 earnings per diluted share, for the three months ended September 30, 2018. Return on average assets and return on average equity were 0.72% and 6.43%, respectively, for the three months ended December 31, 2018, as compared to 0.74% and 6.42%, respectively, for the three months ended September 30, 2018.

Net Interest Income and Net Interest Margin
On a sequential quarter basis, net interest income increased $215,000, or 1.5%, to $14.8 million for the three months ended December 31, 2018 from $14.6 million for the three months ended September 30, 2018.  The increase in net interest income was due to an increase in interest income of $584,000, or 3.0%, partially offset by an increase in interest expense of $369,000, or 7.4%. The increase in interest expense was primarily due to a $422,000, or 13.6%, increase in interest expense on deposits, while interest expense on borrowings decreased $53,000, or 2.8%. Net interest income for the three months ended December 31, 2018 included $61,000 in favorable purchase accounting adjustments, compared to $62,000 in negative purchase accounting adjustments for the three months ended September 30, 2018.

The net interest margin for the three months ended December 31, 2018 was 2.99%, compared to 2.96% for the three months ended September 30, 2018. Excluding the purchase accounting adjustments of $61,000 and prepayment penalties of $49,000 reported during the three months ended December 31, 2018, the net interest margin was 2.97%, which was unchanged from the three months ended September 30, 2018.

The fully tax equivalent average yield on interest-earning assets increased 10 basis points from 4.00% for the three months ended September 30, 2018 to 4.10% for the three months ended December 31, 2018. Excluding the purchase accounting adjustments and prepayment penalties, the average yield on interest-earning assets increased seven basis points from 4.03% for the three months ended September 30, 2018 to 4.10% for the three months ended December 31, 2018. During the three months ended December 31, 2018, the average cost of funds increased 11 basis points from 1.32% for the three months ended September 30, 2018 to 1.43% for the three months ended December 31, 2018. The average cost of deposits increased 13 basis points from 1.00% for the three months ended September 30, 2018 to 1.13% for the three months ended December 31, 2018, primarily due to a 14 basis point increase in the average cost of time deposits, while the average cost of borrowings increased 13 basis points during the same period. For the three months ended December 31, 2018, average demand deposits of $359.2 million, an interest-free source of funds, represented 22.5% of average total deposits, and increased $30.5 million, or 9.3%, from the three months ended September 30, 2018. During the three months ended December 31, 2018, average interest-earning assets increased $9.0 million, or 0.5%, to $2.0 billion. The increase in average interest-earning assets was due to an increase of $8.5 million, or 0.5%, in average loans and an increase of $8.2 million, or 90.1%, in average short-term investments, partially offset by a decrease of $7.3 million, or 2.8%, in average securities.

Provision for Loan Losses
The provision for loan losses decreased $50,000, or 14.3%, from $350,000 for the three months ended September 30, 2018, to $300,000 for the three months ended December 31, 2018. The Company recorded net charge-offs of $482,000 for the three months ended December 31, 2018, as compared to net charge-offs of $101,000 for the three months ended September 30, 2018.

Non-Interest Income
On a sequential quarter basis, non-interest income decreased $58,000, or 2.5%, to $2.2 million for the three months ended December 31, 2018, from $2.3 million for the three months ended September 30, 2018. The decrease in non-interest income was primarily due to a decrease in service charges and fees of $121,000, or 6.4%. As reported last quarter, the third quarter typically includes seasonal non-interest income which was approximately $200,000 during the three months ended September 30, 2018. During the three months ended December 31, 2018, the Company reported a $31,000 loss on the early redemption of a bond and $48,000 in unrealized gains on the Company’s marketable equity securities portfolio due to the adoption of Accounting Standards Board (“ASU”) 2016-01, compared to $43,000 in unrealized losses during the three months ended September 30, 2018.

Non-Interest Expense
For the three months ended December 31, 2018, non-interest expense increased $121,000, or 1.0%, to $11.7 million from $11.6 million for the three months ended September 30, 2018.  The increase in non-interest expense was primarily due to an increase in occupancy expense of $43,000, or 4.5%, an increase in data processing of $39,000, or 6.1%, an increase in furniture and equipment of $12,000, or 3.0%, and an increase in other non-interest expense of $135,000, or 7.3%. These increases were partially offset by a decrease in professional fees of $64,000, or 8.3%, a decrease in FDIC insurance expense of $18,000, or 11.4%, a decrease in salaries and benefits of $17,000, or 0.3%, and a decrease in advertising expense of $9,000, or 2.6%. For the three months ended December 31, 2018, the efficiency ratio was 68.6%, compared to 68.3% for the three months ended September 30, 2018.

Income Tax Provision
The Company’s effective tax rate was 24.1% for the three months ended December 31, 2018, compared to 21.5% for the three months ended September 30, 2018 primarily due to a true-up of the tax impact on unrealized gains and losses on the marketable equity securities portfolio marked to market under ASU 2016-01.

Net Income for the Three Months Ended December 31, 2018 Compared to the Three Months Ended December 31, 2017
The Company reported net income of $3.8 million, or $0.14 earnings per diluted share, for the three months ended December 31, 2018, compared to a net loss of $353,000, or $0.01 net loss per diluted share, for the three months ended December 31, 2017. The results for the three months ended December 31, 2017 includes a one-time, non-cash write-down in the amount of $4.0 million as a result of a deferred tax asset revaluation related to the enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “Tax Act”). Excluding the $4.0 million write-down, core net income was $3.6 million, or $0.12 per diluted share, for the three months ended December 31, 2017, compared to $3.8 million, or $0.14 per diluted share, for the three months ended December 31, 2018. Core net income is a non-GAAP financial measure.  Management believes core net income more accurately reflects the Company’s results of operations in the overall evaluation of its performance.  A reconciliation of core net income is included in the accompanying financial tables. Net income, excluding favorable purchase accounting amortization of $953,000 during the three months ended December 31, 2017 and $61,000 during the three months ended December 31, 2018, was $2.7 million, or $0.09 per diluted share and $3.8 million, or $0.14 per diluted share, respectively.

Return on average assets and return on average equity were 0.72% and 6.43%, respectively, for the three months ended December 31, 2018, as compared to (0.07%) and (0.56%), respectively, for the three months ended December 31, 2017.

Net Interest Income and Net Interest Margin
Net interest income decreased $532,000, or 3.5%, to $14.8 million for the three months ended December 31, 2018, from $15.4 million for the three months ended December 31, 2017. Interest income increased $950,000, or 4.9%, from the three months ended December 31, 2017 to the three months ended December 31, 2018, while interest expense increased $1.5 million, or 38.1%, during the same period. Purchase accounting amortization decreased $892,000, or 93.6%, from $953,000 for the three months ended December 31, 2017 to $61,000 for the three months ended December 31, 2018. Excluding these adjustments, net interest income increased $360,000, or 2.5%.

The fully tax equivalent net interest margin for the three months ended December 31, 2018 was 2.99%, compared to 3.19% during the three months ended December 31, 2017. The decrease in net interest margin was largely due to a decrease of $892,000, or 93.6%, in purchase accounting adjustments from $953,000 for the three months ended December 31, 2017 to $61,000 for the three month ended December 31, 2018, which negatively impacted the net interest margin by 19 basis points. Excluding the purchase accounting adjustments and prepayment penalties, the net interest margin was 2.97% for the three months ended December 31, 2018, compared to 3.00%, for the three months ended December 31, 2017. The reduction in the statutory federal income tax rate from 35% for the three months ended December 31, 2017 to 21% for three months ended December 31, 2018 negatively impacted the net interest margin and resulted in a two basis point decline in the fully tax equivalent net interest margin over the same period.

The fully taxable equivalent average yield on interest-earning assets increased 8 basis points from 4.02% for the three months ended December 31, 2017 to 4.10% for the three months ended December 31, 2018. Excluding the purchase accounting adjustments and prepayment penalties in both periods, the average yield on interest-earning assets increased 23 basis points from 3.87% for the three months ended December 31, 2017 to 4.10% for the three months ended December 31, 2018, respectively. During the three months ended December 31, 2018, the average cost of funds increased 39 basis points from 1.04% for the three months ended December 31, 2017 to 1.43% for the three months ended December 31, 2018. The average cost of time deposits increased 56 basis points from 1.23% for the three months ended December 31, 2017 to 1.79% for the three months ended December 31, 2018. The average cost of deposits increased 38 basis points from 0.75% for the three months ended December 31, 2017 to 1.13% for the three months ended December 31, 2018, while the average cost of borrowings increased 68 basis points during the same period. For the three months ended December 31, 2018, average demand deposits of $359.2 million, an interest-free source of funds, represented 22.5% of average total deposits and increased $49.9 million, or 16.1%, from the three months ended December 31, 2017.

During the three months ended December 31, 2018, average interest-earning assets increased $42.7 million, or 2.2%, to $2.0 billion, from $1.9 billion for the three months ended December 31, 2017. The increase in average interest-earning assets was due to an increase in average loans of $68.6 million, or 4.2%, and an increase in average short-term investments of $12.2 million, partially offset by a decrease in average securities of $37.6 million, or 12.8%.

Average Federal Home Loan Bank (“FHLB”) borrowings decreased $22.5 million, or 8.0%, from $281.4 million for the three months ended December 31, 2017 to $258.9 million for the three months ended December 31, 2018. In order to manage interest rate risk, average long-term FHLB borrowings increased $75.0 million, or 53.7%, from $139.6 million during the three months ended December 31, 2017 to $214.6 million during the three months ended December 31, 2018, while short-term borrowings decreased $97.5 million, or 68.8%, during the same period. Long-term borrowings were used to replace a portion of our short-term borrowings that matured during the quarter in order to manage funding costs in a rising rate environment.

Provision for Loan Losses
The provision for loan losses decreased $210,000, or 41.2%, from $510,000 for the three months ended December 31, 2017 to $300,000 for the three months ended December 31, 2018. The Company recorded net charge-offs of $482,000 for the three months ended December 31, 2018 and $197,000 for the same period in 2017. 

Non-Interest Income
Non-interest income increased $241,000, or 12.1%, to $2.2 million for the three months ended December 31, 2018, from $2.0 million for the three months ended December 31, 2017. The increase was primarily due to an increase in service charges and fees of $170,000, or 10.6%, a decrease of $58,000 on the loss on sale of other real estate owned (“OREO”), and unrealized gains of $48,000 on the Company’s marketable equity securities portfolio due to the adoption of ASU 2016-01, partially offset by a $31,000 loss on the early redemption of a bond.

Non-Interest Expense
For the three months ended December 31, 2018, non-interest expense increased $329,000, or 2.9%, to $11.7 million, or 2.19% of average assets, from $11.4 million, or 2.17% of average assets, for the three months ended December 31, 2017.  The increase in non-interest expense was primarily due to an increase in other non-interest expense of $203,000, or 11.4%, an increase in professional fees of $63,000, or 9.8%, an increase in occupancy expense of $36,000, or 3.8%, an increase in furniture and equipment of $28,000, or 7.3%, and an increase in advertising expenses of $7,000, or 2.1%. These increases were partially offset by a decrease in salaries and benefits of $43,000, or 0.7%, and a decrease in FDIC insurance of $14,000, or 9.1%. For the three months ended December 31, 2018, the efficiency ratio was 68.6%, compared to 65.3% for the three months ended December 31, 2017.

Income Tax Provision
The Company’s effective tax rate decreased from 106.4% for the three months ended December 31, 2017 to 24.1% for the three months ended December 31, 2018. The effective tax rate for the three months ended December 31, 2017 was a result of the previously mentioned $4.0 million reduction in the value of the Company’s net deferred tax assets (“DTA”) as a result of the Tax Act.  Excluding this one-time charge, the effective tax rate for the three months ended December 31, 2017 was 33.4%.

Net Income for the Twelve Months Ended December 31, 2018 Compared to the Twelve Months Ended December 31, 2017
For the twelve months ended December 31, 2018, the Company reported net income of $16.4 million, or $0.57 per diluted share, compared to $12.3 million, or $0.41 per diluted share, for the twelve months ended December 31, 2017. For the twelve months ended December 31, 2018, core net income of $16.2 million, or $0.56 per diluted share, increased $1.3 million, or 8.7%, from $14.9 million, or $0.50 per diluted share for the twelve months ended December 31, 2017.  Core net income of $16.2 million for the twelve months ended December 31, 2018 excludes $165,000 of tax benefits recorded on Bank Owned Life Insurance (“BOLI”) death benefits and option exercises. For the twelve months ended December 31, 2017, core net income of $14.9 million excludes $379,000, net of tax, of merger related expenses, $1.8 million in tax benefits recorded in connection with the reversal of a deferred tax valuation allowance and the exercises of stock options, and the $4.0 million one-time, non-cash write-down of the Company’s DTA.  Adjusting for favorable purchase accounting amortization of $1.1 million for the twelve months ended December 31, 2018 and $2.4 million for the twelve months ended December 31, 2017, respectively, net income was $15.1 million and $12.5 million, respectively.

Return on average assets and return on average equity were 0.78% and 6.82% for the twelve months ended December 31, 2018, respectively, compared to 0.59% and 4.94% for the twelve months ended December 31, 2017, respectively. Excluding tax benefits and merger related expenses, net of tax, return on average assets and return on average equity were 0.77% and 6.75% for the twelve months ended December 31, 2018, respectively, compared to 0.72% and 5.97% for the twelve months ended December 31, 2017, respectively.

Net Interest Income and Net Interest Margin
Net interest income increased $618,000, or 1.0%, from $59.4 million for the twelve months ended December 31, 2017 to $60.0 million for the twelve months ended December 31, 2018. The increase in net interest income was primarily due to an increase in interest and dividend income of $5.0 million, or 6.7%, partially offset by an increase in interest expense of $4.3 million, or 29.6%, from the twelve months ended December 31, 2017. The increase in interest expense was due to an increase in interest expense on deposits of $3.2 million, or 38.3%, and an increase in interest expense on borrowings of $1.1 million, or 17.7%, for the twelve months ended December 31, 2018.  Excluding favorable purchase accounting adjustments of $1.1 million and prepayment penalties of $328,000 during the twelve months ended December 31, 2018 and $2.4 million in favorable purchase accounting adjustments during the twelve months ended December 31, 2017, net interest income increased $1.6 million, or 2.8%.

The fully taxable equivalent net interest margin decreased four basis points from 3.12% for the twelve months ended December 31, 2017 to 3.08% for the twelve months ended December 31, 2018. During the twelve months ended December 31, 2018 and December 31, 2017, favorable purchase accounting adjustments related to the Chicopee acquisition increased net interest income by $1.1 million and $2.4 million, respectively. The twelve months ended December 31, 2018 also included prepayment penalties of $328,000. Excluding these items, the adjusted net interest margin for the twelve months ended December 31, 2018 was 3.01% compared to 2.99% for the twelve months ended December 31, 2017. The reduction in the statutory federal income tax rate from 35% for the twelve months ended December 31, 2017 to 21% for twelve months ended December 31, 2018 negatively impacted the net interest margin and resulted in a three basis point decline in the fully tax equivalent net interest margin over the same period.

The average asset yield increased 17 basis points from 3.88% for the twelve months ended December 31, 2017 to 4.05% for the twelve months ended December 31, 2018. The average cost of funds increased 29 basis points from 0.97% for the twelve months ended December 31, 2017 to 1.26% for the twelve months ended December 31, 2018. The average cost of time deposits increased 43 basis points from 1.12% for the twelve months ended December 31, 2017 to 1.55% for the twelve months ended December 31, 2018. Excluding the favorable purchase account adjustments on time deposits of $278,000 and $892,000 during the twelve months ended December 31, 2018 and December 31, 2017, respectively, the cost of deposits increased 19 basis points from 0.78% during the twelve months ended December 31, 2017 to 0.97% during the twelve months ended December 31, 2018, respectively. The average cost of borrowings increased 57 basis points from 2.06% for the twelve months ended December 31, 2017 to 2.63% for the twelve months ended December 31, 2018.

Average interest-earning assets increased $25.7 million, or 1.3%, to $2.0 billion for the twelve months ended December 31, 2018. The increase in average interest-earning assets was due to an increase in average loans of $68.7 million, or 4.3%, partially offset by the decrease in average investments of $33.6 million, or 11.1%, and a decrease in short-term investments of $9.0 million, or 46.9%.

Average FHLB borrowings decreased $9.2 million, or 3.3%, from $282.7 million for the twelve months ended December 31, 2017 to $273.5 million for the twelve months ended December 31, 2018. In order to manage interest rate risk, during the twelve months ended December 31, 2018, average long-term FHLB borrowings of $207.5 million increased $82.0 million, or 65.3%, from $125.5 million for the twelve months ended December 31, 2017, as short-term borrowings decreased $91.1 million, or 58.0%, during the same period. New long-term borrowings were used to replace a portion of our short-term borrowings that matured over the twelve month period ending December 31, 2018 in order to manage funding costs in a rising rate environment.

Provision for Loan Losses
The provision for loan losses of $1.9 million increased $540,000, or 39.7%, for the twelve months ended December 31, 2018 compared to $1.4 million for the twelve months ended December 31, 2017. The Company recorded net charge-offs of $678,000 for the twelve months ended December 31, 2018, as compared to net charge-offs of $597,000 for the twelve months ended December 31, 2017. Contributing to the increase in the general reserves was an increase in commercial real estate loans of $36.3 million, or 5.0%, from $732.6 million at December 31, 2017 to $768.9 million at December 31, 2018.

Non-Interest Income
For the twelve months ended December 31, 2018, non-interest income of $9.2 million increased $732,000, or 8.6%, compared to $8.5 million for the twelve months ended December 31, 2017. During the twelve months ended December 31, 2018, non-interest income included the recognition of $715,000 in BOLI death benefits. Excluding the BOLI death benefits, non-interest income increased of $17,000, or 0.2%. The increase was primarily due to an increase in service charges and fees of $548,000, or 8.6%, and an increase of $39,000 on the gain on the sale of OREO, partially offset by $333,000 in realized securities losses primarily due to the amortization of the remaining premium on a bond which was paid in full prior to its final maturity, $142,000 in unrealized losses on the Company’s marketable equity securities portfolio due to the adoption of ASU 2016-01 in 2018, and a decrease in other income of $96,000, or 42.3%.

Non-Interest Expense
For the twelve months ended December 31, 2018, non-interest expense increased $1.5 million, or 3.2%, to $46.2 million, or 2.21% of average assets, compared to $44.8 million, or 2.16% of average assets for the twelve months ended December 31, 2017. Excluding merger-related expenses of $526,000, non-interest expense increased $1.9 million, or 4.3%, from $44.3 million for the twelve months ended December 31, 2017 to $46.2 million for the twelve months ended December 31, 2018. The increase in non-interest expense was primarily due to an increase in salaries and benefits of $551,000, or 2.2%, an increase in data processing of $266,000, or 11.2%, an increase in professional fees of $251,000, or 9.8%, an increase in occupancy expense of $200,000, or 5.3%, an increase in advertising expense of $99,000, or 7.6%, an increase in furniture and equipment of $28,000, or 1.8%, and an increase in other expenses of $598,000, or 9.0%. The increase in professional fees of $251,000, or 9.8%, was primarily due to $309,000 in legal fees associated with a previously charged-off loan from 2010 which resulted in the recovery of $300,000 during the twelve months ended December 31, 2018. The Company intends to continue to pursue legal remedies against the principals for recovery, but there can be no assurance that these efforts will result in significant recoveries.

For the twelve months ended December 31, 2018, the efficiency ratio was 67.1%, compared to 65.3% for the twelve months ended December 31, 2017.

Income Tax Provision
The effective tax rate for the twelve months ended December 31, 2018 and December 31, 2017 was 22.3% and 43.4%, respectively. The higher effective tax rate for the twelve months ended December 31, 2017 was primarily due to a one-time, non-cash DTA write-down of $4.0 million due to the Tax Act, partially offset by tax benefits of $1.8 million in connection with a reversal of a deferred tax valuation allowance and the exercise of stock options recorded during the twelve months ended December 31, 2017. Excluding the one-time charge of $4.0 million, the effective tax rate for the twelve months ended December 31, 2017 was 25.0%.

Balance Sheet
At December 31, 2018, total assets were $2.1 billion, an increase of $35.8 million, or 1.7%, from December 31, 2017, primarily due to an increase in loans of $66.2 million, or 4.0%, partially offset by a decrease in securities available-for-sale and marketable equity securities of $28.3 million, or 9.8%.

Loans
Total loans increased $66.2 million, or 4.0%, due to an increase in commercial real estate loans of $36.3 million, or 5.0%, an increase in residential real estate loans of $24.5 million, or 3.8%, and an increase in commercial and industrial loans of $5.0 million, or 2.1%. In order to reduce interest rate risk, the Company currently services $56.6 million in residential loans sold to the secondary market. The servicing rights will continue to be retained on all loans sold. The following table is a summary of our outstanding loan balances as of the periods indicated:         

 December 31,
2018
 December 31,
2017
 (Dollars in thousands)
  
Commercial real estate loans$768,881 $732,616
Commercial and industrial loans 243,493  238,502
Residential real estate loans 674,879  650,351
Consumer loans 5,203  4,478
Total gross loans 1,692,456  1,625,947
Unamortized premiums and net deferred loans fees and costs 4,401  4,734
Total loans$1,696,857 $1,630,681

Credit Quality
Net charge-offs for the twelve months ended December 31, 2018 totaled $678,000, or 0.04% of average loans, compared to net charge-offs $597,000, or 0.04% of average loans, for the twelve months ended December 31, 2017.

At December 31, 2018, nonperforming loans totaled $13.5 million, or 0.79% of total loans, compared to $12.8 million, or 0.78% of total loans at December 31, 2017.  At December 31, 2018, there were no loans 90 or more days past due and still accruing interest. Nonperforming assets to total assets were 0.64% at December 31, 2018 and 0.62% at December 31, 2017. The allowance for loan losses as a percentage of total loans was 0.71% at December 31, 2018, compared to 0.66% at December 31, 2017. At December 31, 2018, the allowance for loan losses as a percentage of nonperforming loans was 89.4%, compared to 84.9% at December 31, 2017. The allowance for loan losses as a percentage of total loans, excluding loans acquired from Chicopee, which were recorded at fair value with no related allowance for loan losses, was 0.98% at December 31, 2018 and 1.01% at December 31, 2017.

Deposits
At December 31, 2018, total deposits were $1.6 billion, an increase of $89.9 million, or 6.0%, from December 31, 2017. Core deposits, which the Company defines as all deposits except time deposits, decreased $13.6 million, or 1.4%, from $949.5 million, or 63.0% of total deposits, at December 31, 2017, to $935.9 million, or 58.6% of total deposits, at December 31, 2018. Non-interest-bearing deposits increased $43.5 million, or 13.9%, to $355.4 million, money market accounts decreased $11.8 million, or 2.9%, to $398.4 million, and interest-bearing checking accounts decreased $23.8 million, or 27.2%, to $63.6 million. Time deposits increased $103.5 million, or 18.6%, from $556.5 million at December 31, 2017 to $660.0 million at December 31, 2018.

FHLB Advances and Repurchase Agreements
FHLB advances decreased $30.5 million, or 10.2%, from $297.8 million at December 31, 2017 to $267.3 million at December 31, 2018, while customer repurchase agreements decreased $11.7 million during the same period. During the three months ended March 31, 2018, the Company eliminated customer repurchase agreements and balances were transferred to the customer’s respective core deposit account.

Capital
At December 31, 2018, shareholders’ equity was $237.0 million, or 11.2% of total assets, compared to $247.3 million, or 11.9% of total assets at December 31, 2017. The decrease in shareholders’ equity during the twelve months ended December 31, 2018 reflects $22.8 million for the repurchase of the Company’s shares during the year and the payment of regular cash dividends of $4.6 million offset by net income of $16.4 million and an increase of $1.1 million in accumulated other comprehensive loss.  Total shares outstanding as of December 31, 2018 were 28,393,348.

The Company’s tangible book value per share increased by $0.21, or 2.8%, to $7.78 at December 31, 2018 from $7.57 at December 31, 2017. The Company’s and the Bank’s regulatory capital ratios continued to exceed the levels required to be considered “well-capitalized” under federal banking regulations.

Share Repurchase
On January 29, 2019, the Board of Directors authorized a stock repurchase program under which the Company may purchase up to 2.8 million shares, or approximately 10% of its outstanding common stock.  The 2019 Plan will commence upon the completion of the Company’s existing repurchase plan. The shares purchased under the 2019 Plan will be purchased from time to time at prevailing market prices, through open market or privately negotiated transactions, or otherwise, depending upon market conditions. There is no guarantee as to the exact number of or value of shares that will be repurchased by the Company, and the Company may discontinue repurchases at any time that management determines additional repurchases are not warranted. The timing and amount of share repurchases under the 2019 Plan will depend on a number of factors, including the Company’s stock price performance, ongoing capital planning considerations, general market conditions, and applicable legal requirements.

About Western New England Bancorp, Inc.
Western New England Bancorp, Inc. is a Massachusetts-chartered stock holding company and the parent company of Westfield Bank, CSB Colts, Inc., Elm Street Securities Corporation, WFD Securities, Inc. and WB Real Estate Holdings, LLC.  Western New England Bancorp, Inc. and its subsidiaries are headquartered in Westfield, Massachusetts and operate 22 banking offices throughout western Massachusetts and northern Connecticut.  To learn more, visit our website at www.westfieldbank.com.

Forward-Looking Statements
The Company wishes to caution readers not to place undue reliance on any such forward-looking statements contained in this press release, which speak only as of the date made. Actual results may differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements as a result of various important factors discussed under the caption “Risk Factors” in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2017.  The Company and the Bank do not undertake and specifically decline any obligation to publicly release the result of any revisions that may be made to any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date of such statements or to reflect the occurrence of anticipated or unanticipated events.


WESTERN NEW ENGLAND BANCORP, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
Consolidated Statements of Net Income (Loss) and Other Data
(Dollars in thousands, except per share data)
(Unaudited) 

 Three Months EndedTwelve Months Ended
 December 31,September 30,June 30,March 31,December 31,December 31,
  2018  2018  2018  2018  2017  2018  2017 
INTEREST AND DIVIDEND INCOME:       
Loans$18,111 $17,577 $18,405 $16,702 $17,182 $70,795 $65,664 
Securities 1,754  1,766  1,829  1,808  1,862  7,157  7,577 
Other investments 232  228  202  201  177  863  678 
Short-term investments 92  34  28  21  18  175  120 
Total interest and dividend income 20,189  19,605  20,464  18,732  19,239  78,990  74,039 
        
INTEREST EXPENSE:       
Deposits 3,516  3,094  2,718  2,355  2,269  11,683  8,448 
Long-term debt 1,202  1,193  1,130  855  627  4,380  2,261 
Short-term borrowings 651  713  751  800  991  2,915  3,936 
Total interest expense 5,369  5,000  4,599  4,010  3,887  18,978  14,645 
        
Net interest and dividend income 14,820  14,605  15,865  14,722  15,352  60,012  59,394 
        
PROVISION FOR LOAN LOSSES 300  350  750  500  510  1,900  1,360 
        
Net interest and dividend income after provision for loan losses 14,520  14,255  15,115  14,222  14,842  58,112  58,034 
        
NON-INTEREST INCOME:       
Service charges and fees 1,770  1,891  1,693  1,583  1,600  6,937  6,389 
Income from bank-owned life insurance 451  448  484  442  455  1,825  1,824 
Bank-owned life insurance death benefit -  -  715  -  -  715  - 
(Loss) gain on available-for-sale securities, net (31) -  (49) (201) -  (281) 52 
Gain (loss) on sale of OREO -  -  -  48  (58) 48  9 
Unrealized gains (losses) on marketable equity securities 48  (43) (41) (106) -  (142) - 
Other income -  -  131  -  -  131  227 
Total non-interest income 2,238  2,296  2,933  1,766  1,997  9,233  8,501 
        
NON-INTEREST EXPENSE:       
Salaries and employees benefits 6,434  6,451  6,564  6,533  6,477  25,982  25,431 
Occupancy 995  952  967  1,060  959  3,974  3,774 
Furniture and equipment 412  400  382  367  384  1,561  1,533 
Data processing 681  642  678  637  632  2,638  2,372 
Professional fees 703  767  681  659  640  2,810  2,559 
FDIC insurance 140  158  147  158  154  603  620 
Merger related expenses -  -  -  -  -  -  526 
Advertising expense 342  351  355  347  335  1,395  1,296 
Other 1,986  1,851  1,772  1,665  1,783  7,274  6,676 
Total non-interest expense 11,693  11,572  11,546  11,426  11,364  46,237  44,787 
        
INCOME BEFORE INCOME TAXES 5,065  4,979  6,502  4,562  5,475  21,108  21,748 
        
INCOME TAX PROVISION 1,223  1,070  1,364  1,043  5,828  4,700  9,428 
NET INCOME (LOSS)$3,842 $3,909 $5,138 $3,519 $(353)$16,408 $12,320 
        
Basic earnings (loss) per share$0.14 $0.14 $0.18 $0.12 $(0.01)$0.57 $0.41 
Weighted average shares outstanding 28,252,383  28,789,132  29,035,895  29,484,824  29,750,267  28,886,904  29,858,984 
Diluted earnings (loss) per share$0.14 $0.14 $0.18 $0.12 $(0.01)$0.57 $0.41 
Weighted average diluted shares outstanding 28,395,964  28,937,038  29,178,264  29,620,929  29,750,267  29,029,394  30,026,638 
        
Other Data:       
Return (loss) on average assets (1) 0.72% 0.74% 0.98% 0.69% (0.07)% 0.78% 0.59%
Return on average assets, exclusive of merger expenses, tax benefits and deferred tax asset adjustment for corporate rate change (1)(3) 0.72% 0.74% 0.95% 0.69% 0.70% 0.77% 0.72%
Return (loss) on average equity (1) 6.43% 6.42% 8.63% 5.82% (0.56)% 6.82% 4.94%
Return on average equity, exclusive of merger expenses, tax benefits and deferred tax asset adjustment for corporate rate change (1)(3) 6.43% 6.42% 8.38% 5.79% 5.75% 6.75% 5.97%
Efficiency ratio (2)(3) 68.62% 68.30% 63.53% 68.23% 65.28% 67.10% 65.25%
Net interest margin, on a fully tax equivalent basis 2.99% 2.96% 3.27% 3.12% 3.19% 3.08% 3.12%
(1)  Annualized.     
(2)  The efficiency ratio represents the ratio of operating expenses excluding merger related charges divided by the sum of net interest and dividend income and non-interest income, excluding gains and losses on available for sale securities and sale of OREO, unrealized gains (losses) on marketable equity securities and bank-owned life insurance death benefits.
(3)  Please refer to the “Reconciliation of non-GAAP to GAAP Financial Measures” on pages 17 and 18 for further details.


WESTERN NEW ENGLAND BANCORP, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
Consolidated Balance Sheets
(Dollars in thousands)
(Unaudited)

 December 31, September 30, June 30, March 31, December 31,
  2018   2018   2018   2018   2017 
Cash and cash equivalents$26,789  $61,999  $22,925  $29,438  $27,132 
Securities available for sale, at fair value 253,748   252,984   259,689   266,963   288,416 
Marketable equity securities, at fair value 6,408   6,319   6,324   6,327   - 
Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston and other restricted stock - at cost 14,695   15,480   15,584   14,685   15,553 
          
Loans 1,696,857   1,692,568   1,668,875   1,646,990   1,630,681 
Allowance for loan losses (12,053)  (12,235)  (11,986)  (11,370)  (10,831)
Net loans 1,684,804   1,680,333   1,656,889   1,635,620   1,619,850 
          
Bank-owned life insurance 69,252   68,801   68,353   69,204   68,762 
Goodwill 12,487   12,487   12,487   12,487   12,487 
Core deposit intangible 3,688   3,781   3,875   3,969   4,063 
Other assets 46,951   48,341   49,470   46,838   46,807 
TOTAL ASSETS$2,118,822  $2,150,525  $2,095,596  $2,085,531  $2,083,070 
          
Total deposits$1,595,993  $1,609,019  $1,551,804  $1,553,727  $1,506,082 
Short-term borrowings 59,250   55,000   66,000   55,000   144,650 
Long-term debt 208,018   224,306   214,672   212,730   164,786 
Other liabilities 18,532   20,915   21,047   21,451   20,271 
TOTAL LIABILITIES 1,881,793   1,909,240   1,853,523   1,842,908   1,835,789 
          
TOTAL SHAREHOLDERS' EQUITY 237,029   241,285   242,073   242,623   247,281 
          
TOTAL LIABILITIES AND SHAREHOLDERS' EQUITY$2,118,822  $2,150,525  $2,095,596  $2,085,531  $2,083,070 
          



WESTERN NEW ENGLAND BANCORP, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
Other Data
(Dollars in thousands, except per share data)
(Unaudited)

 December 31, September 30, June 30, March 31, December 31,
  2018   2018   2018   2018   2017 
          
Other Data:         
          
Shares outstanding at end of period 28,393,348   29,453,808   29,746,707   30,138,083   30,487,309 
          
Book value per share$8.35  $8.19  $8.14  $8.05  $8.11 
Tangible book value per share 7.78   7.64   7.59   7.50   7.57 
30-89 day delinquent loans 7,183   8,153   9,413   7,519   9,795 
30-89 day delinquent loans acquired from Chicopee, net of purchase accounting adjustments 2,763   3,328   3,285   3,229   4,527 
Total delinquent loans 12,495   10,960   11,917   9,837   12,247 
Total delinquent loans as a percentage of total loans 0.74%  0.65%  0.71%  0.60%  0.75%
Nonperforming loans 13,484   12,782   13,010   12,100   12,755 
Nonperforming loans acquired from Chicopee, net of purchase accounting adjustments 4,894   5,035   5,101   5,883   6,157 
Nonperforming loans as a percentage of total loans 0.79%  0.76%  0.78%  0.73%  0.78%
Nonperforming assets as a percentage of total assets 0.64%  0.59%  0.62%  0.58%  0.62%
Allowance for loan losses as a percentage of nonperforming loans 89.39%  95.72%  92.13%  93.97%  84.92%
Allowance for loan losses as a percentage of total loans 0.71%  0.72%  0.72%  0.69%  0.66%
Allowance for loan losses as a percentage of total loans, excluding loans acquired from Chicopee recorded at fair value with no corresponding allowance 0.98%  1.01%  1.03%  1.02%  1.01%
                    

The following tables set forth the information relating to our average balances and net interest income for the three months ended December 31, 2018, September 30, 2018, and December 31, 2017 and reflects the average yield on interest-earning assets and average cost of interest-bearing liabilities for the periods indicated.

 
 Three Months Ended
 December 31, 2018 September 30, 2018 December 31, 2017
 Average    Average Yield/ Average    Average Yield/ Average    Average  Yield/
 Balance Interest (6) Cost Balance Interest (6) Cost Balance Interest (6) Cost
 (Dollars in thousands)
ASSETS:                    
Interest-earning assets                    
Loans(1)(2)$1,690,515 $18,236  4.31% $1,682,034 $17,690  4.21% $1,621,863 $17,417  4.30%
Securities(2) 256,063  1,760  2.75   263,378  1,772  2.69   293,742  1,875  2.55 
Other investments 17,345  232  5.35   17,747  228  5.14   17,864  177  3.96 
Short-term investments(3) 17,326  92  2.12   9,083  34  1.50   5,062  18  1.42 
Total interest-earning assets 1,981,249  20,320  4.10   1,972,242  19,724  4.00   1,938,531  19,487  4.02 
Total non-interest-earning assets 132,547       134,708       139,623     
Total assets$2,113,796      $2,106,950      $2,078,154     
                     
LIABILITIES AND EQUITY:                    
Interest-bearing liabilities                    
Interest-bearing checking accounts$70,319  79  0.45  $86,615  94  0.43  $83,777  81  0.39 
Savings accounts 121,932  33  0.11   138,112  40  0.12   145,111  42  0.12 
Money market accounts 405,668  528  0.52   415,416  489  0.47   412,423  415  0.40 
Time deposit accounts 643,478  2,876  1.79   600,333  2,471  1.65   562,222  1,731  1.23 
Total interest-bearing deposits 1,241,397  3,516  1.13   1,240,476  3,094  1.00   1,203,533  2,269  0.75 
Short-term borrowings and long-term debt 258,900  1,853  2.86   279,181  1,906  2.73   297,136  1,618  2.18 
Interest-bearing liabilities 1,500,297  5,369  1.43   1,519,657  5,000  1.32   1,500,669  3,887  1.04 
Non-interest-bearing deposits 359,244       328,735       309,289     
Other non-interest-bearing liabilities 17,224       16,917       16,449     
Total non-interest-bearing liabilities 376,468       345,652       325,738     
Total liabilities 1,876,765       1,865,309       1,826,407     
Total equity 237,031       241,641       251,747     
Total liabilities and equity$2,113,796      $2,106,950      $2,078,154     
Less: Tax-equivalent adjustment(2)   (131)       (119)       (248)   
Net interest and dividend income  $14,820       $14,605       $15,352    
Net interest rate spread    2.65%     2.66%     2.93%
Net interest rate spread, on a tax-equivalent basis(4)    2.67%     2.68%     2.98%
Net interest margin    2.97%     2.94%     3.14%
Net interest margin, on a tax-equivalent basis(5)    2.99%     2.96%     3.19%
Ratio of average interest-earning                    
assets to average interest-bearing liabilities    132.06%     129.78%     129.18%
                     

The following tables set forth the information relating to our average balances and net interest income for the twelve months ended December 31, 2018 and 2017 and reflects the average yield on interest-earning assets and average cost of interest-bearing liabilities for the periods indicated.

 
 Twelve Months Ended December 31,
  2018  2017
 Average    Average Yield/ Average    Average Yield/
 Balance Interest (6) Cost Balance Interest (6) Cost
 (Dollars in thousands)
ASSETS:             
Interest-earning assets             
Loans(1)(2)$1,666,266 $71,283  4.28% $1,597,599 $66,619  4.17%
Securities(2) 268,614  7,181  2.67   302,246  7,636  2.53 
Other investments 17,453  863  4.94   17,715  678  3.83 
Short-term investments(3) 10,213  175  1.71   19,244  120  0.62 
Total interest-earning assets 1,962,546  79,502  4.05   1,936,804  75,053  3.88 
Total non-interest-earning assets 134,174       138,241     
Total assets$2,096,720      $2,075,045     
              
LIABILITIES AND EQUITY:             
Interest-bearing liabilities             
Interest-bearing checking accounts$87,072  340  0.39  $86,069  330  0.38 
Savings accounts 136,428  162  0.12   149,497  179  0.12 
Money market accounts 414,686  1,911  0.46   401,935  1,565  0.39 
Time deposit accounts 596,182  9,270  1.55   567,088  6,374  1.12 
Total interest-bearing deposits 1,234,368  11,683  0.95   1,204,589  8,448  0.70 
Short-term borrowings and long-term debt 277,151  7,295  2.63   300,964  6,197  2.06 
Interest-bearing liabilities 1,511,519  18,978  1.26   1,505,553  14,645  0.97 
Non-interest-bearing deposits 327,868       305,701     
Other non-interest-bearing liabilities 16,653       14,448     
Total non-interest-bearing liabilities 344,521       320,149     
Total liabilities 1,856,040       1,825,702     
Total equity 240,680       249,343     
Total liabilities and equity$2,096,720      $2,075,045     
Less: Tax-equivalent adjustment(2)   (512)       (1,014)   
Net interest and dividend income  $60,012       $59,394    
Net interest rate spread    2.76%     2.85%
Net interest rate spread, on a tax-equivalent basis(4)    2.79%     2.91%
Net interest margin    3.06%     3.07%
Net interest margin, on a tax-equivalent basis(5)    3.08%     3.12%
Ratio of average interest-earning             
assets to average interest-bearing liabilities   129.84%     128.64%
             


____________________________________________________

  1. Loans, including non-accrual loans, are net of deferred loan origination costs and unadvanced funds.
  2. Loan and securities income are presented on a tax-equivalent basis using a tax rate of 21% and 35% for the 2018 and 2017 periods, respectively. The tax-equivalent adjustment is deducted from tax-equivalent net interest and dividend income to agree to the amount reported on the consolidated statements of net income.
  3. Short-term investments include federal funds sold.
  4. Net interest rate spread, on a tax-equivalent basis, represents the difference between the weighted average yield on interest-earning assets and the weighted average cost of interest-bearing liabilities. 
  5. Net interest margin represents tax-equivalent net interest and dividend income as a percentage of average interest-earning assets.
  6. The accounting for the Chicopee acquisition required loans, time deposits and borrowings to be recorded at fair value.  The fair value marks on the loans, time deposits and borrowings acquired accrete and amortize into net interest income over time.  For the three months ended December 31, 2018, September 30, 2018 and December 31, 2017, the loan accretion income and interest expense reduction on time deposits and borrowings related to the Chicopee acquisition increased (decreased) net interest income $61,000, $(62,000) and $953,000, respectively, and for the twelve months ended December 31, 2018 and December 31, 2017, the loan accretion income and interest expense reduction on time deposits and borrowings related to the Chicopee acquisition increased net interest income $1.1 million and $2.4 million, respectively. Excluding these items, net interest margin for the three months ended December 31, 2018, September 30, 2018 and December 31, 2017 was 2.97%, 2.97% and 2.99% and the net interest margin for the twelve months ended December 31, 2018 and December 31, 2017 was 3.01% and 2.99%, respectively.


Reconciliation of Non-GAAP to GAAP Financial Measures

The Company believes that certain non-GAAP financial measures provide information to investors that is useful in understanding its financial condition.  Because not all companies use the same calculation, this presentation may not be comparable to other similarly titled measures calculated by other companies.  A reconciliation of these non-GAAP financial measures is provided below.

 Three Months Ended
 Twelve Months Ended
 December 31, September 30,
 June 30,
 March 31,
 December 31,
 December 31,
 2018 2018
 2018
 2018
 2017
 2018
 2017
 (Dollars in thousands, except per share data) 
   
Net Income:             
Net income (loss), as presented$3,842 $3,909 $5,138  $3,519  $(353) $16,408  $12,320 
Merger related expenses, net of tax (1) -  -  -   -   -   -   379 
Tax benefit impact (2) -  -  (150)  (15)  -   (165)  (1,806)
Deferred tax asset adjustment for corporate rate change (3) -  -  -   -   4,000   -   4,000 
Core net income, exclusive of merger related expenses, tax benefits impact and deferred tax asset adjustment for corporate rate change$3,842 $3,909 $4,988  $3,504  $3,647  $16,243  $14,893 
              
Diluted EPS:             
Diluted earnings (loss) per share, as presented$0.14 $0.14 $0.18  $0.12  $(0.01) $0.57  $0.41 
Merger related expense impact, net of tax (1) -  -  -   -   -   -   0.02 
Tax benefits impact (2) -  -  (0.01)  -   -   (0.01)  (0.06)
Deferred tax asset adjustment for corporate rate change (3) -  -  -   -   0.13   -   0.13 
Core diluted EPS, exclusive of merger related expense, tax benefits impact and deferred tax asset adjustment for corporate rate change$0.14 $0.14 $0.17  $0.12  $0.12  $0.56  $0.50 
 

 

 Three Months Ended Twelve Months Ended
 December 31, September 30, June 30, March 31, December 31, December 31,
 2018  2018  2018  2018  2017  2018  2017 
 (Dollars in thousands, except per share data)
              
Return on Average Assets:             
Return (loss) on average assets, as presented0.72% 0.74% 0.98% 0.69% (0.07)% 0.78% 0.59%
Merger related expense impact, net of tax (1)-  -  -  -  -  -  0.02 
Tax benefits impact (2)-  -  (0.03) -  -  (0.01) (0.09)
Deferred tax asset adjustment for corporate rate change (3)-  -  -  -  0.77  -  0.20 
Core return on average assets, exclusive of merger related expense, tax benefits impact and deferred tax asset adjustment for corporate rate change0.72% 0.74% 0.95% 0.69% 0.70% 0.77% 0.72%


              
Return on Average Equity:             
Return (loss) on average equity, as presented6.43% 6.42% 8.63% 5.82% (0.56)% 6.82% 4.94%
Merger related expense impact, net of tax (1)-  -  -  -  -  -  0.15 
Tax benefits impact (2)-  -  (0.25) (0.03) -  (0.07) (0.72)
Deferred tax asset adjustment for corporate rate change (3)-  -  -  -  6.31  -  1.60 
Core return on average equity, exclusive of merger related expense, tax benefits impact and corporate rate change6.43% 6.42% 8.38% 5.79% 5.75% 6.75% 5.97%


(1) Assumed tax rate for deductible expenses of 33.0% for the twelve months ended December 31, 2017.
(2) Tax benefit impact of the reversal of a deferred tax valuation allowance, stock option exercises and bank-owned life insurance death benefits.
(3) Deferred tax asset adjustment recorded during the fourth quarter of 2017 upon enactment of the Tax Act.

For further information contact:
James C. Hagan, President and CEO
Guida R. Sajdak, Executive Vice President and CFO
Meghan Hibner, Vice President and Investor Relations Officer
413-568-1911

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Source: Westfield Bank