BUSINESS FIRST BANCSHARES, INC., ANNOUNCES FINANCIAL RESULTS FOR FY 2018 AND Q4 2018

January 29, 2019

BUSINESS FIRST BANCSHARES, INC., ANNOUNCES FINANCIAL RESULTS FOR FY 2018 AND Q4 2018

 

Baton Rouge, LA (January 29, 2019) – Business First Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ: BFST) (Business First), parent company of Business First Bank, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, today announced its unaudited 2018 full-year net income of $14.1 million, or $1.22 per diluted share, increases of $9.2 million and $0.61, respectively, from the prior year. Core net income, which excludes noncore income and expenses, was $16.8 million, or $1.45 per diluted share, which reflects increases of $13.6 million and $1.06, respectively, from the prior year.

Net income for the quarter ended December 31, 2018, was $3.4 million, or $0.28 per diluted share, which reflects increases of $4.3 million and $0.36, respectively, from the quarter ended December 31, 2017. Core net income was $4.7 million, or $0.38 per diluted share, which reflects increases of $5.4 million and $0.45, respectively, from the quarter ended December 31, 2017.

“Fourth quarter results were a strong way to finish a very successful year,” said Jude Melville, president and CEO. “In each quarter over the course of the year, our team increased core earnings, increased net interest margin and demonstrated an improved core efficiency ratio. In the fourth quarter, we did so while integrating new teammates with the closing of our Richland State Bank partnership.”

“2018 was a transformative year for our company, and we look forward to building on the momentum we’ve generated to maximize value on behalf of our clients and our shareholders over the course of 2019.”

On January 24, 2019, Business First’s board of directors declared a quarterly dividend based upon financial performance for the quarter in the amount of $0.08 per share to the common shareholders of record as of February 15, 2019, consistent with the prior quarter. The dividend will be paid on February 28, 2019, or as soon thereafter as practicable.

Quarterly Highlights

  • Successful Acquisition of Richland State Bancorp, Inc. The acquisition was completed on December 1, 2018, and included total assets of $313.5 million, loans of $194.3 million and total deposits of $289.6 million.
  • Solid Loan Growth. Total loans held for investment at December 31, 2018, were $1.5 billion, an increase of $230.5 million compared to September 30, 2018, and an increase of $553.2 compared to December 31, 2017. Net organic loan growth was $39.5 million, or 10.6% annualized, for the quarter ended December 31, 2018. Annual net organic loan growth for full-year 2018 was $170.0 million, or 12.5%.
  • Net Interest Margin Expansion. Net interest margin and net interest spread were 4.07% and 3.70%, respectively, compared to 4.05% and 3.70% for the quarter ended September 30, 2018, and to 3.87% and 3.57%, respectively, for the quarter ended December 31, 2017.
  • Increased Provision for Loan Losses. The provision for loan losses was $939,000 for the quarter ended December 31, 2018, an increase of $436,000, or 86.7%, compared to the $503,000 recorded for the quarter ended September 30, 2018. The net increase, $0.02 per diluted share after-tax, is directly attributable to a single, previously identified (fourth quarter of 2017), impaired loan for which the facts and circumstances have continued to evolve over time.

Financial Condition

December 31, 2018, Compared to September 30, 2018

Balance Sheet

As of December 31, 2018, Business First had total assets of $2.1 billion, total loans of $1.5 billion, total deposits of $1.7 billion and total shareholders’ equity of $260.1 million, compared to $1.7 billion, $1.3 billion, $1.4 billion and $213.0 million, respectively, as of September 30, 2018.

Book value per common share was $19.68 at December 31, 2018, compared to $18.46 at September 30, 2018. Tangible book value per common share was $15.34 at December 31, 2018, compared to $15.30 at September 30, 2018.

Credit Quality

Nonperforming loans as a percentage of total loans held for investment remained constant from 0.89% as of September 30, 2018, to 0.89% as of December 31, 2018. Nonperforming assets as a percentage of total assets decreased from 0.80% as of September 30, 2018, to 0.74% as of December 31, 2018.

December 31, 2018, Compared to December 31, 2017

Balance Sheet

As of December 31, 2018, Business First had total assets of $2.1 billion, total loans of $1.5 billion, total deposits of $1.7 billion and total shareholders’ equity of $260.1 million, compared to $1.3 billion, $975.3 million, $1.1 billion and $180.0 million, respectively, as of December 31, 2017.

Book value per common share was $19.68 at December 31, 2018, compared to $17.58 at December 31, 2017. Tangible book value per common share was $15.34 at December 31, 2018, compared to $16.72 at December 31, 2017. Tangible book value decreased from December 31, 2017, due to the acquisitions of Richland State Bancorp, Inc., and Minden Bancorp, Inc., in 2018.

Credit Quality

Nonperforming loans as a percentage of total loans held for investment decreased from 1.30% as of December 31, 2017, to 0.89% as of December 31, 2018. Nonperforming assets as a percentage of total assets decreased from 0.98% as of December 31, 2017, to 0.74% as of December 31, 2018. The decreases were mainly attributed to improved credit quality in relation to the size of the loan portfolio and total assets of Business First.

Results of Operations

Fourth Quarter 2018 Compared to Third Quarter 2018

Net Income and Diluted Earnings Per Share

For the quarter ended December 31, 2018, net income was $3.4 million, or $0.28 per diluted share, compared to net income of $3.9 million, or $0.33 per diluted share, for the quarter ended September 30, 2018. The reduction in net income was generally attributed to acquisition-related costs and the increase in the provision for loan losses.

Core net income, which excludes noncore income and expenses, for the quarter ended December 31, 2018, was $4.7 million, or $0.38 per diluted share, compared to core net income of $4.4 million, or $0.37 per diluted share, for the quarter ended September 30, 2018. Notable noncore events impacting earnings included the incurrence of $2.1 million in noninterest expenses related to acquisition-related activities and $588,000 related to gains associated with banking center, investment and impaired loan sales for the quarter ended December 31, 2018. The quarter ended September 30, 2018, was impacted by acquisition-related expenses of $509,000 and $139,000 associated with a loss related to the closure of a banking center.

Return on Assets and Equity

Return on average assets and equity, each on an annualized basis, decreased to 0.75% and 6.03%, respectively, for the quarter ended December 31, 2018, compared to 0.94% and 7.37%, respectively, for the quarter ended September 30, 2018. The decrease was largely driven by acquisition-related costs.

As adjusted, core return on average assets and core return on average equity, each on an annualized basis, were 1.03% and 8.23%, respectively, for the quarter ended December 30, 2018, compared to 1.06% and 8.37%, respectively, for the quarter ended September 30, 2018. Both metrics were negatively impacted by the increase in the provision for loan losses, which impacted core return on average assets and average equity (after tax) by .07% and .60%, respectively, for the quarter.

Interest Income

For the quarter ended December 31, 2018, net interest income totaled $17.1 million and net interest margin and net interest spread were 4.07% and 3.70%, respectively, compared to $15.6 million, 4.05% and 3.70% for the quarter ended September 30, 2018.

Net interest margin and net interest spread (excluding loan discount accretion of $283,000) were 4.01% and 3.63%, respectively, for the quarter ended December 31, 2018, compared to 3.98% and 3.63% (excluding loan discount accretion of $268,000) for the quarter ended September 30, 2018.

The average yield on the loan portfolio was 5.72% for the quarter ended December 31, 2018, compared to 5.65% for the quarter ended September 30, 2018. The average

yield on total interest-earning assets was 5.13% for the quarter ended December 31, 2018, compared to 5.01% for the quarter ended September 30, 2018.

Interest Expense

For the quarter ended December 31, 2018, overall cost of funds (which includes noninterest-bearing deposits) increased by 10 basis points compared to the quarter ended September 30, 2018.

Provision for Loan Losses

During the quarter ended December 31, 2018, Business First recorded a provision for loan losses of $939,000 compared to $503,000 for the quarter ended September 30, 2018. The net increase in the provision was driven by a single, previously identified, impaired loan.

Fourth Quarter 2018 Compared to Fourth Quarter 2017

Net Income and Diluted Earnings Per Share

For the quarter ended December 31, 2018, net income was $3.4 million, or $0.28 per diluted share, compared to net income of $(862,000), or $(0.08) per diluted share, for the quarter ended December 31, 2017. The quarter ended December 31, 2017, was negatively impacted by a large provision for loan losses and a write-down of deferred tax assets due to the federal tax reform.

Core net income, which excludes noncore income and expenses, for the quarter ended December 31, 2018, was $4.7 million, or $0.38 per diluted share, compared to core net income of $(733,000), or $(0.07) per diluted share, for the quarter ended December 31, 2017. Notable noncore events impacting earnings included the incurrence of $2.1 million in noninterest expenses related to acquisition-related activities and $588,000 related to gains associated with banking center, investment and impaired loan sales for the quarter ended December 31, 2018. The quarter ended December 31, 2017, was impacted by acquisition-related expenses of $129,000.

Return on Assets and Equity

Return on average assets and return on average equity, each on an annualized basis, increased to 0.75% and 6.03%, respectively, for the quarter ended December 31, 2018, from (0.26)% and (1.89)%, respectively, for the quarter ended December 31, 2017.

As adjusted, core return on average assets and core return on average equity, each on an annualized basis, were 1.03% and 8.23%, respectively, for the quarter ended December 30, 2018, compared to (0.22)% and (1.60)%, respectively, for the quarter ended December 30, 2017.

Interest Income

For the quarter ended December 31, 2018, net interest income totaled $17.1 million and net interest margin and net interest spread were 4.07% and 3.70%, respectively, compared to $11.6 million, 3.87% and 3.57% for the quarter ended December 31, 2017.

Net interest margin and net interest spread (excluding loan discount accretion of $283,000) were 4.01% and 3.63%, respectively, for the quarter ended December 31,

2018, compared to 3.69% and 3.39% (excluding loan discount accretion of $545,000) for the quarter ended December 31, 2017.

The average yield on the loan portfolio was 5.72% for the quarter ended December 31, 2018, compared to 5.22% for the quarter ended December 31, 2017. The average

yield on total interest-earning assets was 5.13% for the quarter ended December 31, 2018, compared to 4.57% for the quarter ended December 31, 2017.

Interest Expense

For the quarter ended December 31, 2018, overall cost of funds (which includes noninterest-bearing deposits) increased by 37 basis points compared to the quarter ended December 31, 2017.

Provision for Loan Losses

During the quarter ended December 31, 2018, Business First recorded a provision for loan losses of $939,000 compared to $2.3 million for the quarter ended December 31, 2017. Both quarters were impacted by large provisions for loan losses.

Banking Centers

As of January 29, 2019, Business First operates out of 25 full-service banking centers in markets across Louisiana and in Dallas, Texas.

Non-GAAP Financial Measures

This press release includes certain non-GAAP financial measures (e.g., referenced as “core” or “tangible”) intended to supplement, not substitute for, comparable GAAP measures. These measures typically adjust income available to common shareholders for certain significant activities or transactions that, in management’s opinion, can distort period-to-period comparisons of Business First’s performance. Transactions that are typically excluded from non-GAAP measures include realized and unrealized gains/losses on former bank premises and equipment, investment sales, impaired loan sales and acquisition-related expenses (including, but not limited to, legal costs, system conversion costs, severance and retention payments, etc.). Management believes presentations of these non-GAAP financial measures provide useful supplemental information that is essential to a proper understanding of the operating results of the Company’s core business. These non-GAAP disclosures are not necessarily comparable to non-GAAP measures that may be presented by other companies. Reconciliations of non-GAAP financial measures to GAAP financial measures are provided at the end of the tables below.

About Business First Bancshares, Inc.

Business First Bancshares, Inc., through its banking subsidiary Business First Bank, operates in 25 banking centers in markets across Louisiana and in Dallas, Texas. Business First Bank provides commercial and personal banking, treasury management and wealth solutions services to small to midsize businesses and their owners and employees. Visit www.b1BANK.com for more information. Business First’s common stock is traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol “BFST.”

Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

Certain statements contained in this release may not be based on historical facts and are “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. These forward-looking statements may be identified by their reference to a future period or periods or by the use of forward-looking terminology such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “expect,” “may,” “might,” “will,” “would,” “could” or “intend.” We caution you not to place undue reliance on the forward-looking statements contained in this news release, in that actual results could differ materially from those indicated in such forward-looking statements as a result of a variety of factors. We undertake no obligation to update these forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances that occur after the date of this news release.

Additional Information

For additional information on Business First, you may obtain Business First’s reports that are filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, free of charge by using the SEC’s EDGAR service on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov or by contacting the SEC for further information at 1-800-SEC-0330. Alternatively, these documents can be obtained free of charge from Business First by directing a request to: Business First Bancshares, Inc., 500 Laurel Street, Suite 100, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70801, Attention: Corporate Secretary.

No Offer or Solicitation

This release does not constitute or form part of any offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to purchase, any securities of the Company. There will be no sale of securities in any jurisdiction in which such an offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of such jurisdiction.