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October 26, 2022

BUSINESS FIRST BANCSHARES, INC., ANNOUNCES FINANCIAL RESULTS FOR Q3 2022

Baton Rouge, La. (October 26, 2022) – Business First Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ: BFST) (Business First), parent company of b1BANK, today announced its unaudited results for the quarter ended September 30, 2022, including net income of $13.8 million, or $0.61 per diluted share, no change from the quarter ended June 30, 2022. On a non-GAAP basis, core net income for the quarter ended September 30, 2022, which excludes certain income and expenses, was $16.4 million, or $0.72 per diluted share, increases of $1.8 million and $0.08, respectively, from the quarter ended June 30, 2022.

"Our third quarter results attest to the potential of a team working in concert over time,” said Jude Melville, president and CEO. “We continue to exhibit strong loan growth across our footprint while benefiting from historically positive asset quality. In addition to improved core operational profitability, we successfully added depth to our equity base, strengthening our balance sheet positioning as we prepare for the challenges and opportunities the next few quarters may hold.”

On October 26, 2022, Business First’s board of directors declared a quarterly dividend based upon financial performance for the third quarter in the amount of $0.12 per share, same as the prior quarter, to the common shareholders of record as of November 15, 2022. The dividend will be paid on November 30, 2022, or as soon thereafter as practicable.

Quarterly Highlights

  • Strong Loan Growth. Total loans held for investment at September 30, 2022, were $4.4 billion, an increase of $316.2 million compared to June 30, 2022, or 7.69% for the quarter. Based on unpaid principal balances, 48.4% of loan growth for the quarter ended September 30, 2022, was attributable to our Dallas market, 23.3% to the Northern Louisiana market, 12.2% to the Baton Rouge market, and 11.5% to the Houston market. As of September 30, 2022, approximately 34% of Business First’s loan portfolio resides in Texas based on unpaid principal balances.
  • Expansion of Net Interest Margin. For the quarter ended September 30, 2022, net interest income totaled $53.5 million and net interest margin and net interest spread were 4.05% and 3.67%, respectively, compared to $49.6 million, 3.98% and 3.79% for the quarter ended June 30, 2022. Non-GAAP net interest margin and net interest spread (excluding loan discount accretion of $1.7 million) were 3.92% and 3.54%, respectively, for the quarter ended September 30, 2022, compared to 3.77% and 3.59% (excluding loan discount accretion of $2.6 million) for the quarter ended June 30, 2022. Net interest margin rose due to continued increase in interest rates and loan growth, as well as $650,000 associated with a nonaccrual loan that was paid in full during the quarter, while the spread declined due to the increased cost of funding associated with the short-term yield curve.
  • Solid Return on Assets and Equity. Return on average assets and common equity, each on an annualized basis, were 0.97% and 12.47%, respectively, for the quarter ended September 30, 2022, compared to 1.02% and 12.22%, respectively, for the quarter ended June 30, 2022. Non-GAAP return on average assets and common equity, each on an annualized basis, were 1.15% and 14.80%, respectively, for the quarter ended September 30, 2022, compared to 1.08% and 12.93%, respectively, for the quarter ended June 30, 2022.
  • Overall Credit Quality Remains Stable. Ratios of nonperforming loans compared to loans held for investment and nonperforming assets compared to total assets decreased from 0.42% and 0.33%, respectively, at June 30, 2022, to 0.25% and 0.21% at September 30, 2022. The reduction was largely due to a single nonfarm nonresidential commercial loan with an outstanding balance of $6.3 million being repaid in full during July 2022. 
  • Preferred Stock Issuance.  Business First completed a private placement of $72.0 million of 7.50% fixed-to-floating rate non-cumulative perpetual preferred stock on September 1, 2022.

Financial Condition

September 30, 2022, Compared to June 30, 2022

Loans

Loans held for investment increased $316.2 million or 7.69%, 30.74% annualized, for the quarter ended September 30, 2022.

Credit Quality

Nonperforming loans as a percentage of total loans held for investment decreased from 0.42% as of June 30, 2022, to 0.25% as of September 30, 2022. Nonperforming assets as a percentage of total assets decreased from 0.33% as of June 30, 2022, to 0.21% as of September 30, 2022. The decreases were largely attributable to a single nonfarm nonresidential commercial loan with an outstanding balance of $6.3 million being paid in full in July 2022.

Total Shareholders’ Equity

Book value per common share was $19.29 at September 30, 2022, compared to $19.73 at June 30, 2022. The decrease was largely attributable to the $21.9 million increase in accumulated other comprehensive losses related to unrealized losses on Business First’s available for sale investment portfolio. 

On a non-GAAP basis, tangible book value per share was $14.73 at September 30, 2022, compared to $15.13 at June 30, 2022.

September 30, 2022, Compared to September 30, 2021

Loans

Total loans held for investment increased by $1.4 billion, or 44.47%, compared to September 30, 2021. Excluding loans acquired from Texas Citizens on March 1, 2022, loans increased $1.0 billion, or 33.08%.

Credit Quality

Nonperforming loans as a percentage of total loans held for investment decreased from 0.45% as of September 30, 2021, to 0.25% as of September 30, 2022. Nonperforming assets as a percentage of total assets decreased from 0.37% as of September 30, 2021, to 0.21% as of September 30, 2022. Both ratio decreases were largely attributable to the increase in total loans and assets, as well as a $2.8 million decrease in nonaccrual loans.

Total Shareholders’ Equity

Book value per common share was $19.29 at September 30, 2022, compared to $21.11 at September 30, 2021. On a non-GAAP basis, tangible book value per share was $14.73 at September 30, 2022, compared to $17.53 at September 30, 2021. The decreases were largely attributable to the $90.4 million increase in the accumulated other comprehensive losses associated with the available for sale portfolio, which was driven by the change in the broader interest rate and economic environment.

Results of Operations

Third Quarter 2022 Compared to Second Quarter 2022

Net Income and Diluted Earnings Per Share

For the quarter ended September 30, 2022, and June 30, 2022, net income was $13.8 million, or $0.61 per diluted share. Net interest income increased by $3.9 million due to loan growth and interest rate increases, but was offset by $4.5 million in increased noninterest expense, largely attributable to increases of $2.6 million of merger and conversation-related expenses, $498,000 in salaries and employee benefits, and $441,000 in advertising and promotions during the quarter ended September 30, 2022.

On a non-GAAP basis, core net income, which excludes certain income and expenses, for the quarter ended September 30, 2022, was $16.4 million, or $0.72 per diluted share, compared to core net income of $14.6 million, or $0.64 per diluted share, for the quarter ended June 30, 2022. Notable noncore events impacting earnings for the quarter ended September 30, 2022, included $265,000 attributable to insurance reimbursements of storm expenses in other income and $3.5 million in acquisition-related expenses, compared to $708,000 of acquisition-related expenses and $270,000 of expenses attributable to storm repairs for the quarter ended June 30, 2022.

Interest Income

For the quarter ended September 30, 2022, net interest income totaled $53.5 million and net interest margin and net interest spread were 4.05% and 3.67%, respectively, compared to $49.6 million, 3.98% and 3.79% for the quarter ended June 30, 2022. The average yield on total interest-earning assets was 4.80% for the quarter ended September 30, 2022, compared to 4.33% for the quarter ended June 30, 2022. The average yield on the loan portfolio (excluding Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans) was 5.50% for the quarter ended September 30, 2022, compared to 5.10% for the quarter ended June 30, 2022. The quarter ended June 30, 2022, included additional loan discount accretion of $876,000, while the quarter ended September 30, 2022, included additional interest income of approximately $650,000 associated with a nonaccrual loan that was paid in full during the quarter.

Non-GAAP net interest margin and net interest spread (excluding loan discount accretion of $1.7 million) were 3.92% and 3.54%, respectively for the quarter ended September 30, 2022, compared to 3.77% and 3.59% (excluding loan discount accretion of $2.6 million) for the quarter ended June 30, 2022. The additional interest income of approximately $650,000 associated with the nonaccrual loan that was paid off during the quarter accounted for approximately 5 bps of net interest margin.

Interest Expense

For the quarter ended September 30, 2022, overall cost of funds (which includes noninterest-bearing deposits) increased by 41 basis points, from 0.36% to 0.77%, compared to the quarter ended June 30, 2022, due to continued rate increases and growth in borrowings.

Other Income

For the quarter ended September 30, 2022, other income increased by $1.1 million compared to the quarter ended June 30, 2022. The increase was largely attributable to a $520,000 increase in equity investment income and a $265,000 reimbursement for storm expenditures from insurance, which occurred during the quarter ended September 30, 2022.

Other Expenses

For the quarter ended September 30, 2022, other expense increased by $4.5 million compared to the quarter ended June 30, 2022. The increase was largely attributable to a $2.6 million increase in merger and conversion-related expenses, $498,000 increase in salaries and employee benefits, and $441,000 increase in advertising and promotions, related to increased media spend and production costs, during the quarter ended September 30, 2022.

Provision for Loan Losses

During the quarter ended September 30, 2022, Business First recorded a provision for loan losses of $3.3 million, compared to $2.9 million for the quarter ended June 30, 2022. The reserves for both quarters ended September 30, 2022, and June 30, 2022, were driven primarily by new loan growth.

Return on Assets and Equity

Return on average assets and common equity, each on an annualized basis, were 0.97% and 12.47%, respectively, for the quarter ended September 30, 2022, compared to 1.02% and 12.22%, respectively, for the quarter ended June 30, 2022.

Third Quarter 2022 Compared to Third Quarter 2021

Net Income and Diluted Earnings Per Share

For the quarter ended September 30, 2022, net income was $13.8 million or $0.61 per diluted share, compared to net income of $10.3 million or $0.50 per diluted share, for the quarter ended September 30, 2021. Net interest income increased by $16.2 million (attributed to the larger balance sheet resulting from the Texas Citizens acquisition, as well as strong organic growth and recent increase in interest rates during the past six months), partially offset by a $2.1 million increase in provision for loan loss due to loan growth, $5.1 million increase in salaries and employee benefits (largely attributable to the acquisition of Texas Citizens and additional staffing, mostly loan production), and $3.1 million in merger and conversion-related expenses attributable to the Texas Citizens acquisition, during the quarter ended September 30, 2022.

On a non-GAAP basis, core net income, which excludes certain income and expenses, for the quarter ended September 30, 2022, was $16.4 million or $0.72 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 September 30, 2022, included $265,000 attributable to insurance reimbursements of storm expenses in other income and $3.5 million in acquisition-related expenses, compared to $211,000 in occupancy and bank premises expenses attributable to storm 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 during the quarter ended September 30, 2021.

Interest Income

For the quarter ended September 30, 2022, net interest income totaled $53.5 million and net interest margin and net interest spread were 4.05% and 3.67%, 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 4.80% for the quarter ended September 30, 2022, compared to 4.14% for the quarter ended September 30, 2021. The average yield on the loan portfolio (excluding SBA PPP loans) was 5.50% for the quarter ended September 30, 2022, compared to 5.11% for the quarter ended September 30, 2021.

Non-GAAP net interest margin and net interest spread (excluding loan discount accretion of $1.7 million) were 3.92% and 3.5%, respectively for the quarter ended September 30, 2022, 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 September 30, 2022, overall cost of funds (which includes noninterest-bearing deposits) increased by 33 basis points, from 0.44% to 0.77%, compared to the quarter ended September 30, 2021. The increase in cost of funds was primarily attributable to an overall increase in interest rates on deposit offerings and higher average subordinated debt balances and Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) borrowings.

Other Income

For the quarter ended September 30, 2022, the increase in other income of $2.0 million, compared to the quarter ended September 30, 2021, was largely attributable to the $558,000 loss on other real estate owned (OREO) recorded during the quarter ended September 30, 2021, increase on service charges of $353,000 due to the acquisition of Texas Citizens on March 1, 2022, and organic deposit growth, and increase of $285,000 in fees and brokerage commission due to the increase in assets under management.

Other Expenses

For the quarter ended September 30, 2022, the increase in other expense of $11.6 million compared to the quarter ended September 30, 2021, was largely attributable to the $5.1 million increase in salaries and employee benefits associated with the acquisition of Texas Citizens on March 1, 2022, and additional loan production staffing which occurred over the past year, and $3.1 million in merger and conversion-related expenses associated with the acquisition of Texas Citizens.

Provision for Loan Losses

During the quarter ended September 30, 2022, Business First recorded a provision for loan losses of $3.3 million compared to $1.1 million for the quarter ended September 30, 2021.

Return on Assets and Equity

Return on average assets and return on average common equity, each on an annualized basis, were 0.97% and 12.47%, respectively, for the quarter ended September 30, 2022, from 0.95% and 9.47%, respectively, for the quarter ended September 30, 2021.

Conference Call and Webcast

Executive management will host a conference call and webcast to discuss results on Thursday, October 27, 2022, at 2:00 p.m. CDT. Interested parties may attend the call by dialing toll-free 1-800-715-9871 (North America only), conference ID 3389208, or asking for the Business First Bancshares conference call. The live webcast can be found at https://edge.media-server.com/mmc/p/yawh3a5g. The corresponding slide presentation can be assessed the day of the presentation on b1BANK’s website at https://www.b1bank.com/shareholder-info.

About Business First Bancshares, Inc.

Business First Bancshares, Inc., (Nasdaq: BFST) through its banking subsidiary b1BANK, has $5.8 billion in assets, $6.3 billion in assets under management through b1BANK’s affiliate Smith Shellnut Wilson, LLC (SSW) (excludes $0.9 billion of b1BANK assets managed by SSW) and operates Banking Centers and Loan Production Offices in markets across Louisiana and the Dallas and Houston, Texas areas, 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 multiyear winner of American Banker’s “Best Banks to Work For.” 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 “core” 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 Business First’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. 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 about Business First, 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.

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 Business First. 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.

 

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