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January 25, 2022

BUSINESS FIRST BANCSHARES, INC., ANNOUNCES FINANCIAL RESULTS FOR FISCAL YEAR 2021 AND Q4 2021

Baton Rouge, La. (January 25, 2022) – Business First Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ: BFST) (Business First), parent company of b1BANK, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, today announced its unaudited results for the year ended December 31, 2021, including net income of $52.1 million, or $2.53 per diluted share, an increase of $22.1 million and $0.89, respectively, from the prior year ended December 31, 2020. The increase was largely impacted by a $9.2 million pre-tax gain on sale of Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans during the second quarter of 2021 and pre-tax net interest income of $8.2 million realized in 2021 related to SBA PPP loans. On a non-GAAP basis, core net income for the year ended December 31, 2021, which excludes certain income and expenses, was $53.9 million, or $2.61 per diluted share, increases of $16.5 million and $0.56, respectively, from prior year ended December 31, 2020. 

For the quarter ended December 31, 2021, Business First reported net income of $12.1 million, or $0.59 per diluted share, increases of $1.8 million and $0.09, respectively, from the quarter ended September 30, 2021. On a non-GAAP basis, core net income for the quarter ended December 31, 2021, which excludes certain income and expenses, was $11.7 million, or $0.57 per diluted share, an increase of $0.8 million and $0.04, respectively, from the quarter ended September 30, 2021.

“Given all that has occurred over the past few years in our company and across the country the fourth quarter of 2021 was the most “normal” quarter we’ve had in some time,” said Jude Melville, president and CEO. “We are adding clarity and visibility to our story: an entrepreneurial company steadily building core profitability, adding employees, clients and product capability, and diversifying risk across an expanding footprint. We enter 2022 eager to close our pending merger with Texas Citizens Bank in Houston, continue building upon our foundational investment in Dallas-Fort Worth and grow our market share across Louisiana.”

On January 24, 2022, Business First’s board of directors declared a quarterly dividend based upon financial performance for the fourth quarter in the amount of $0.12 per share, same as the prior quarter, to the common shareholders of record as of February 15, 2022. The dividend will be paid on February 28, 2022, or as soon thereafter as practicable.

 

Quarterly Highlights

  • Loan Growth. Total loans held for investment at December 31, 2021, were $3.2 billion, an increase of $123.4 million compared to September 30, 2021, or 4.02% for the quarter and 16.10% annualized. Excluding the decrease in SBA PPP loans, total loans held for investment increased from the quarter ended September 30, 2021, by 4.18%, or 16.71% annualized. Loan growth in Dallas, Tx. (28.6%), greater New Orleans (63.4%), and the Baton Rouge/Capital Region (36.1%) markets accounted for 128.1% of the quarterly loan growth, offset by normal net maturities and payoffs in Business First’s other markets.
  • Stable Credit Quality. Ratios of nonperforming loans compared to loans held for investment and nonperforming assets compared to total assets slightly improved from 0.37% and 0.45%, respectively, at September 30, 2021, to 0.31% and 0.41% at December 31, 2021. The nonperforming asset ratio has decreased from the prior quarter due to asset sales.
  • Banking Center Sale. Business First regularly evaluates its Banking Center network in search of optimization opportunities and closed two Banking Centers during Q4 2021, one in Minden, La, and a second by sale in Oak Grove, La., on October 1, 2021. The Banking Center sale resulted in a pre-tax gain on sale of $492,000.
  • Texas Citizens Bancorp, Inc. Acquisition. On October 20, 2021, Business First executed a definitive agreement to acquire Texas Citizens Bancshares, Inc. (TCBI), the parent bank holding company for Texas Citizens Bank, National Association, based in Pasadena, Tx. As of December 31, 2021, TCBI had consolidated total assets of $547.2 million, loans of $359.0 million, and deposits of $482.8 million.

 

Financial Condition

 

December 31, 2021, Compared to September 31, 2021

 

Loans

Loans held for investment increased $123.4 million, or 4.02% (16.10% annualized), for the quarter ended December 31, 2021. The increase was largely attributable to loan originations in our construction and land and nonfarm, nonresidential real estate portfolios which were $83.7 million and $32.7 million, respectively. Year to date loan growth was 6.63%, inclusive of SBA PPP loans. As of December 31, 2021, SBA PPP loans with an unpaid principal balance of $5.4 million remained outstanding, compared to $8.9 million as of September 30, 2021.  

 

Excluding the net decrease in SBA PPP loans, total loans held for investment increased for the quarter ended December 31, 2021, by 4.18%, or 16.71% annualized. Year to date loan growth was 19.00% excluding SBA PPP loans.

 

Credit Quality

Nonperforming loans as a percentage of total loans held for investment decreased from 0.45% as of September 30, 2021, to 0.41% as of December 31, 2021. Nonperforming assets as a percentage of total assets decreased from 0.37% as of September 30, 2021, to 0.31% as of December 31, 2021.

Total Shareholders’ Equity

 

Book value per common share was $21.24 at December 31, 2021, compared to $21.11 at September 30, 2021. On a non-GAAP basis, tangible book value per share was $17.71 at December 31, 2021, compared to $17.53 at September 30, 2021. 

 

December 31, 2021, Compared to December 31, 2020

 

Loans

Total loans held for investment increased by $198.3 million compared to December 31, 2020, or 6.63 %. Excluding SBA PPP loans, loans increased $508.3 million, or 19.00%.

 

Credit Quality

Nonperforming loans as a percentage of total loans held for investment increased from 0.35% as of December 31, 2020, to 0.41% as of December 31, 2021. Nonperforming assets as a percentage of total assets decreased from 0.48% as of December 31, 2020, to 0.31% as of December 31, 2021, largely due to the sales of nonperforming assets.

Total Shareholders’ Equity

Book value per common share was $21.24 at December 31, 2021, compared to $19.88 at December 31, 2020. On a non-GAAP basis, tangible book value per share was $17.71 at December 31, 2021, compared to $16.80 at December 31, 2020.

 

Results of Operations

Fourth Quarter 2021 Compared to Third Quarter 2021

 

Net Income and Diluted Earnings Per Share

For the quarter ended December 31, 2021, net income was $12.1 million, or $0.59 per diluted share, compared to net income of $10.3 million, or $0.50 per diluted share, for the quarter ended September 31, 2021. The increase, $1.8 million and $0.09, respectively, was largely attributable to a $1.1 million increase in pre-tax net interest income and a $455,000 increase in pre-tax gains on sales of securities for the quarter ended December 31, 2021.

 

On a non-GAAP basis, core net income, which excludes certain income and expenses, for the quarter ended December 31, 2021, was $11.7 million, or $0.57 per diluted share, compared to core net income of $10.9 million, or $0.53 per diluted share, for the quarter ended September 30, 2021. Notable noncore events impacting earnings for the quarter ended December 31, 2021, included $444,000 in gains on sale of securities and a $492,000 gain on sale of the Oak Grove Banking Center within other income, and $266,000 of expenses attributable to acquisition-related expenses, compared to $211,000 in occupancy and bank premises expenses attributable to hurricane damages (primarily related to Ida, 2021), $145,000 in acquisition-related expenses and $392,000 in losses on sales of former premises and equipment within other income, for the quarter ended September 30, 2021.

 

Interest Income

For the quarter ended December 31, 2021, net interest income totaled $38.3 million and net interest margin and net interest spread were 3.57% and 3.38%, respectively, compared to $37.3 million, 3.71% and 3.51% for the quarter ended September 30, 2021. The average yield on total interest-earning assets was 3.93% for the quarter ended December 31, 2021, compared to 4.14% for the quarter ended September 30, 2021. The increase in interest income was largely attributable to loan growth during the fourth quarter. The average yield on the loan portfolio (excluding SBA PPP loans) was 4.93% for the quarter ended December 31, 2021, compared to 5.11% for the quarter ended September 30, 2021, due to lower-yielding new originations.

 

Non-GAAP net interest margin and net interest spread (excluding loan discount accretion of $1.6 million) were 3.42% and 3.24%, respectively, for the quarter ended December 31, 2021, compared to 3.56% and 3.36% (excluding loan discount accretion of $1.5 million) for the quarter ended September 30, 2021.   

 

Interest Expense

For the quarter ended December 31, 2021, overall cost of funds (which includes noninterest-bearing deposits) decreased by six basis points, from 0.44% to 0.38%, compared to the quarter ended September 30, 2021, due to a combination of increased noninterest deposits and lower yielding interest-bearing deposits.

 

Other Income

For the quarter ended December 31, 2021, other income was higher by $627,000 compared to the quarter ended September 30, 2021. The increase was largely attributable to increases on gains of securities of $455,000, fees and brokerage commissions of $386,000, gains on sales of other real estate owned of $523,000, and gain on sale of the Oak Grove Banking Center of $492,000, offset by a reduction of other income of $1.3 million. 

 

Other Expenses

For the quarter ended December 31, 2021, other expense decreased by $152,000 compared to the quarter ended September 30, 2021.

 

Provision for Loan Losses

During the quarter ended December 31, 2021, Business First recorded a provision for loan losses of $1.3 million, compared to $1.1 million for the quarter ended September 30, 2021. The reserve for the quarter ended December 31, 2021, was driven primarily by the improvement in the qualitative factors (attributed to the general economy and energy sector), offset by reserves for new loan growth.

 

Return on Assets and Equity

Return on average assets and equity, each on an annualized basis, were 1.05% and 11.20%, respectively, for the quarter ended December 31, 2021, compared to 0.95% and 9.47%, respectively, for the quarter ended September 30, 2021.

 

Fourth Quarter 2021 Compared to Fourth Quarter 2020

Net Income and Diluted Earnings Per Share

For the quarter ended December 31, 2021, net income was $12.1 million, or $0.59 per diluted share, compared to net income of $13.8 million, or $0.67 per diluted share, for the quarter ended December 31, 2020. The decreases in net income and diluted earnings per share were largely attributable to lower interest income related to a reduction of SBA PPP loan fees and discount accretion, as well as the $4.2 million gains on sales of loans under the Main Street Lending Program (Main Street) which occurred in December 2020, offset by the reduction of $2.4 million loss on early extinguishment of Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) debt which occurred in December 2020 and a decrease in the provision for loan losses of $834,000.

 

On a non-GAAP basis, core net income, which excludes certain income and expenses, for the quarter ended December 31, 2021, was $11.7 million, or $0.57 per diluted share, compared to core net income of $14.1 million, or $0.68 per diluted share, for the quarter ended December 31, 2020. Notable noncore events impacting earnings for the quarter ended December 31, 2021, included $444,000 gains on sale of securities and a $492,000 gain on sale of the Oak Grove Banking Center within other income, and $266,000 of expenses attributable to acquisition-related expenses, compared to the incurrence of $568,000 in acquisition-related expenses and $158,000 in gains attributed to former bank premises and equipment in other income for the quarter ended December 31, 2020.

 

Interest Income

For the quarter ended December 31, 2021, net interest income totaled $38.3 million and net interest margin and net interest spread were 3.57% and 3.38%, respectively, compared to $39.6 million, 4.26% and 4.03% for the quarter ended December 31, 2020. The average yield on the loan portfolio (excluding SBA PPP loans) was 4.93% for the quarter ended December 31, 2021, compared to 5.59% for the quarter ended December 31, 2020. The decrease in interest income was largely attributable to lower fees and interest income from lower SBA PPP loan balances.

Average yield on total interest-earning assets, net interest margin, and net interest spread were negatively impacted for the quarter ended December 31, 2021, by lower yielding loans and securities, offset partially by lower deposit and borrowing costs.  

Non-GAAP net interest margin and net interest spread (excluding loan discount accretion of $1.6 million) were 3.42% and 3.24%, respectively, for the quarter ended December 31, 2021, compared to 3.99% and 3.75% (excluding loan discount accretion of $2.6 million) for the quarter ended December 31, 2020.

 

Interest Expense

For the quarter ended December 31, 2021, overall cost of funds (which includes noninterest-bearing deposits) decreased by 15 basis points, from 0.53% to 0.38%, compared to the quarter ended December 31, 2020. The decrease in cost of funds was primarily attributable to an overall reduction in interest rates on deposit offerings and reduction in FHLB advance balances, offset by an increase associated with higher subordinated debt balances.

 

Other Income

For the quarter ended December 31, 2021, the decrease in other income of $2.6 million was largely attributable to the $4.2 million gains on sales of Main Street loans which occurred during December 2020, offset by an increase in gains on sales of securities of $429,000 and $1.3 million in fees and brokerage commissions, compared to the quarter ended December 31, 2020.

 

Other Expenses

For the quarter ended December 31, 2021, the decrease in other expense was $187,000 compared to December 31, 2020. Notable changes include a net increase in salaries and employee benefits of $2.4 million, offset by a reduction of other expenses attributable to a reduction of $2.4 million on loss of early extinguishment of FHLB debt.

Provision for Loan Losses

During the quarter ended December 31, 2021, Business First recorded a provision for loan losses of $1.3 million compared to $2.1 million for the quarter ended December 31, 2020. The reserve for the quarter ended December 31, 2020, was impacted by $450,000 in net charge-offs and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the qualitative factors at the time.

Return on Assets and Equity

Return on average assets and return on average equity, each on an annualized basis, were 1.05% and 11.20%, respectively, for the quarter ended December 31, 2021, from 1.37% and 13.86%, respectively, for the quarter ended December 31, 2020.

 

About Business First Bancshares, Inc.

Business First Bancshares, Inc., (Nasdaq: BFST) through its banking subsidiary b1BANK, has $4.7 billion in assets, $6.2 billion in assets under management through b1BANK’s affiliate Smith Shellnut Wilson, LLC (SSW) (excludes $1.0 billion of b1BANK assets managed by SSW) and operates Banking Centers and Loan Production Offices in markets across Louisiana and the Dallas, Texas area, providing commercial and personal banking products and services. Commercial banking services include commercial loans and letters of credit, working capital lines and equipment financing, and treasury management services. b1BANK was awarded #1 Best-In-State Bank, Louisiana, by Forbes and Statista, and is a three-time recipient of Baton Rouge Business Report’s “Best Places to Work in Baton Rouge.” Visit b1BANK.com for more information. 

 

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. “Core” 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, acquisition-related expenses (including, but not limited to, legal costs, system conversion costs, severance and retention payments, etc.).  “Tangible” measures adjust common equity by subtracting goodwill, core deposit intangibles, and customer intangibles, net of accumulated amortization. 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.

 

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, including those factors specified in our Annual Report on Form 10-K and other public filings. Actual results will also be significantly impacted by the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including, among other effects: the impact of the public health crisis; the extent and duration of closures of businesses, including our Banking Centers, vendors and customers; the operation of financial markets; employment levels; market liquidity; the impact of various actions taken in response by the U.S. federal government, the Federal Reserve, other banking regulators, state and local governments; the adequacy of our allowance for loan losses in relation to potential losses in our loan portfolio; and the impact that all of these factors have on our borrowers, other customers, vendors and counterparties. 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 and the TCBI merger, you may obtain Business First’s reports that are filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (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 101, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70801, Attention: Corporate Secretary.

 

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