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CPKF: Fourth Quarter Better than Expected


By Ann Heffron, CFA, CPA



Chesapeake Financial’s (OTC:CPKF) fourth quarter net earnings rose $61,000, or 3%, year over year to $1.9 million, while 2019’s fourth quarter diluted EPS increased by $0.02, or 3%, to $0.39 from $0.37 posted a year ago. All data in this report have been adjusted for a 6-for-5 stock dividend, paid on October 15, 2019.

This was better than our estimate, which had called for a $0.2 million, or 9%, decrease in net earnings to $1.7 million and diluted EPS of $0.34 (off by $0.05).

The main factors behind the difference between actual results and our estimate were: (1) net interest income was $0.1 million more than we had estimated as average interest-earning assets were higher than expected; (2) there was no provision for credit losses versus our $0.2 million estimate; (3) noninterest income was $0.2 million greater than anticipated as both merchant card income and other miscellaneous income were each $0.1 million larger than our estimate; and (4) both occupancy expense and other miscellaneous expense were each $0.2 million lower than we expected. These were offset by: (1) compensation costs that were $0.5 million more than estimated due to an accrual adjustment and (2) income tax expense that was $0.2 million larger due to higher-than-estimated pretax earnings and a tax rate of 18.2% versus our 13.0% estimate.

We note that in last year’s fourth quarter the Company changed its method of presenting merchant card income and expense from separate line items in noninterest income and noninterest expense, respectively, to a single line item, entitled merchant card income, net, in noninterest income. This change had no impact on the bottom line, though noninterest income and noninterest expense are lower than previously reported, both reduced by the amount of merchant card expense. All data in this report have been modified to conform to this new method of presentation.

The major reasons for the fourth quarter’s 3% increase in net earnings versus the prior-year quarter were a $1.1 million, or 9%, advance in net revenues due to growth in net interest income (up $0.7 million) and net securities gains (up by $0.4 million), partly offset by a $0.7 million, or 8%, rise in total noninterest expense, primarily from greater compensation costs (up $0.8 million) and reduced occupancy expense (down by $0.1 million), as well as $0.3 million more in income taxes due to greater pretax earnings and a higher effective tax rate of 18.2% versus 5.4% a year ago.

For the year, CPKF posted record net income of $11.4 million, or $2.29 per diluted share, up 5% from the $10.8 million, or $2.17 per diluted share, posted in 2018.

Primary contributors to this result were a $3.8 million, or 8%, gain in net revenues from a $2.1 million, or 8%, rise in net interest income, and a $1.7 million, or 9%, advance in noninterest income, primarily the result of higher other miscellaneous income ($1.7 million). These positives were partly offset by a $2.7 million, or 8%, increase in total noninterest expense, largely stemming from a $2.1 million rise in compensation costs (up 11%) and a $0.6 million advance in other miscellaneous expense (up 6%). In addition, income taxes increased by $0.5 million on larger pretax earnings and a higher effective tax rate of 14.3% compared to 11.3% in 2018.

We are increasing our 2020 diluted EPS estimate by a nickel to $2.30, a penny increase over 2019’s $2.29. We recognize that this is down from the prior years’ record earnings growth, but there are several factors contributing to this reality.

First, there is pressure on lending rates due to the recent Fed cut in interest rates, though somewhat offsetting influences are reductions in deposit rates and the call of certain higher rate brokered certificates of deposit. This is reducing our NIM estimate to 3.70% in 2020, down 20 basis points from our prior 3.90% estimate and an actual net interest margin of 3.98% in 2019. Secondly, CPKF expects several new hires to add to compensation costs. Thirdly, CPKF is investing in new technology, leading to higher IT expense. Finally, the Company expects to add a full-service branch to its network late in the second quarter, which will also increase expenses. Positively, loan growth is expected to be solid, and we are continuing our 8% loan growth estimate in 2020.

On October 18, 2019, Chesapeake Financial Shares, Inc. approved a 3% quarterly dividend increase to $0.125 per share from $0.121 per share, payable on or about December 15, 2019 to shareholders of record on December 1, 2019. Notably, CPKF has increased the annual dividend payment every year for the past twenty-eight years since 1991. This follows on the heels of a 6-for-5 stock dividend, paid October 15, 2019.

In 2019 for the twelfth consecutive year, Chesapeake Financial Shares, Inc. has been included in the American Banker magazine listing of the “Top 200 Community Banks” in the United States. The bank ranked at #107 in the nation out of approximately 601 publicly traded banks and thrifts with less than $2 billion in assets in the study, up from #148, when CPKF first broke into the rankings in 2008. The ranking is based on a three-year average of return on average equity (ROAE), which for CPKF was 10.59%. Chesapeake Bank again garnered a top ranking in the American Banker’s list of “Best Banks to Work for”, moving up to a #19 spot in 2019, out of the 85 banks listed, from a #25 place in 2018.

In other news, Chesapeake Financial Shares, Inc. graduated from the OTCQB Venture Market to the OTCQX Best Market, trading on OTCQX under the symbol CPKF.

Chesapeake Financial Shares, Inc. (CPKF or the Company) is a financial holding company headquartered in Kilmarnock, Virginia, with $958 million in total assets at December 31, 2019. CPKF is predominantly a small business lender with 15 branch offices and one loan production office that serve customers in the eastern region of Virginia between the Potomac and James Rivers. CPKF, which began as Lancaster National Bank on April 13, 1900, has a long history and strong ties with the communities it serves.

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