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Eagle Bancorp Inc  (NASDAQ:EGBN)
Q4 2018 Earnings Conference Call
Jan. 17, 2019, 10:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

See all our earnings call transcripts.

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Eagle Bancorp Fourth Quarter and Year-End 2018 Earnings Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later, we will conduct a question-and-answer session and instructions will follow at that time. (Operator Instructions).

I would now like to introduce your host for today's presentation, Mr. Charles Levingston, Chief Financial Officer. Sir, please begin.

Charles D. Levingston -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Howard. Good morning. This is Charles Levinson, Chief Financial Officer of Eagle Bancorp. Before we begin the presentation, I would like to remind everyone that some of the comments made during this call may be considered forward-looking statements. Our Form 10-K for the 2017 fiscal year, our quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and current reports on Form 8-K identify certain factors that could cause the Company's actual results to differ materially from those projected in any forward-looking statements made this morning.

The Company does not undertake to update any forward-looking statements as a result of new information or future events or developments. Our periodic reports are available from the Company or online on the Company's website or the SEC website. I would like to remind you that while our -- while we think that our prospects for continued growth and performances -- or performance are good, it is our policy not to establish with the markets any earnings, margin or balance sheet guidance.

Now, I would like to introduce Ron Paul, the Chairman and CEO of Eagle Bancorp.

Ronald D. Paul -- Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Charles. Good morning, everyone. I'd like to welcome you to our earnings call regarding the results of the fourth quarter and full year of 2018. Thank you for joining in this call this morning. In addition to Charles Levingston, Jan Williams is on the call with us this morning. We will be all available for questions later in the call.

I'm extremely pleased to discuss our financial results for the fourth quarter and the full year of 2018, both of which were highly successful. For both the quarter and the year, we produced record levels of profitability. For the fourth quarter, we earned $40.4 million of net income. Coincidentally, this is our 40th consecutive quarter of record increasing operating earnings dating back to the first quarter of 2009.

Comparisons of the results for the most recent quarter and year to performance of for both the fourth quarter and the full year of 2017 now look distorted because the fourth quarter of 2017 results included a one-time impact of the $14.6 million deferred tax adjustment taken because of the new tax law passed at that time. Therefore, in my remarks this morning, comparative analysis will be based on operating basis results with respective 2017 periods, which we feel is a more valid measure of the Company's performance. Reconciliations to the GAAP measures can be found in our press release.

The $40.4 million of net income for the fourth quarter in 2018 was a 34% increase over the net operating income of $30.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2017. The earnings for the fourth quarter of 2018 also represented a 4% increase over the third quarter of 2018 earnings of $38.9 million. The 2018 annual income of $152.3 million is also a record level of earnings for the Company and represents a 33% increase over the operating earnings for the full year of 2017.

Earnings per share for the fourth quarter of 2018 were $1.17 per fully diluted share, a 33% increase over the operating basis EPS of $0.88 in the fourth quarter of 2017. Earnings per share for the full year of 2018 were $4.42 on a fully diluted basis, which is a 32% increase over the diluted operating basis EPS of $3.35 for 2017. We continue to report top tier profitability with a return on average assets of 1.9% for the fourth quarter of 2018, a healthy increase of a 1.6% of operating basis ROAA in the fourth quarter of 2017. Our return on average tangible common equity was 16.46% for the fourth quarter of 2018, as compared to 12.57% on an operating basis for the fourth quarter of 2017. For the full year of 2018, we achieved significant increases in both the ROAA and the ROA TCE, indicating the consistency of high quality of our earnings.

These earnings are attributable to continued strong organic growth and our consistent balanced performance in the critical measurement indexes. The fourth quarter and full year exhibited very strong deposit growth, healthy loan growth, a decreased, but still strong NIM, continued excellent credit quality and consistent discipline in operating leverage contributing to efficiency.

We monitor and manage all of the dials on the control panel, which ultimately results in the most important item, earnings-per-share growth. While the relative performance of each component may vary from quarter-to-quarter, we strive to maintain the overall balance of these factors which produce increasing profitability. The fourth quarter of 2018 was a good example of this strategy. As indicated in the press release last night, we had good deposit growth during the quarter. However, we also experienced an anticipated high level of loan payoffs. Combined, these two factors generally -- generated excess liquidity, which in turn contributed to a lower NIM, but most importantly, contributed to the increase in our EPS. At the same time, the benefit of excellent credit quality and superior efficiency allowed us to achieve record earnings for the period.

For the full year of 2018, the increased earnings were driven primarily by continued top line revenue growth along with improved operating leverage and continued strong asset quality as well as the benefit of a lower corporate tax rate.

Total revenue for the year increased 8.4% over 2017, while non-interest expenses were up only 6.9%. Pre-tax provision income for the year 2018 increased 9.32% over the full year of 2017. As we have stated in previous earnings calls and meetings, we have been expecting to see some compression in the NIM which is -- which was 3.97% for the fourth quarter of 2018. This level was down 4.13% in the fourth quarter of 2017 and 4.14% in the third quarter of 2018. The decrease was due to several factors. The first was a change in our asset-liability mix during the quarter. We generated excellent deposit growth for the quarter during which we also saw a very high level of construction loan pay-downs. This created excess liquidity, which was deployed at lower short-term rates.

Secondly, we did experience competitive market pressure impacting both loan yields and the cost of funds during the period. The positive to note here is that as the excess liquidity is redeployed into higher yielding loans over the next few months, both asset yields and the NIM are expected to improve over the next few quarters.

Regarding loan yields, we've demonstrated over the last two years of the rising rate environment that we have an asset beta and have generally maintained or increased our loan yields over that period. The yields in our existing book of loans are generally rising due to the structure of the portfolio, which is 61% variable and adjustable. In the fourth quarter, that increase was partially offset by heavy pay-downs on construction loans and new loans being booked in an increasingly competitive environment.

We are also strategically shifting the mix of the loan portfolio over time to increase the percentage of income-producing CRE loans and C&I loans. We continue to make significant gains in our C&I lending activity. Including owner occupied loans, C&I lending grew 14% over the past year as compared to 7% growth for CRE.

We are moving toward the strategic portfolio composition we believe will maintain the correct balance of yield, credit quality, and duration. While the local markets remain very competitive, we do expect that the NIM will improve over what we achieved in the fourth quarter. With the redeployment of excess liquidity, we feel comfortable with a more normalized NIM in 2019. This situation is very similar to what we experienced in the fourth quarter of 2016 when we had excess liquidity, which was redeployed into the loan portfolio over the next few quarters increasing the NIM.

Loan growth continues at a very manageable pace. For the full year of 2018, the growth in average loans was 12% with the net period end loan growth from December 31st 2017 to December 31st 2018 was $580 million or 9%. Net growth for the fourth quarter was in line with expectations as once again we saw the ebbs and flows of large fundings and payoffs during the period. The growth of average loans was 3.7% for the fourth quarter of 2018, while the point-to-point growth from September 30th to December 31st equaled 2.1%. During the quarter, we saw significant pay-downs on condo construction loans. These were not early payoffs, but results in successful completion of those projects.

We are pleased by the net growth achieved during the fourth quarter when you consider that a normal level of production was offset by $355 million of payoffs during the quarter. This is close to one-third of the total payoffs received for the entire year. Our loan pipeline is strong, our loan commitments remain at just about $2.4 billion.

As I stated earlier, we are being more selective in our marketing and underwriting and are mindful of where we are in the economic and credit cycles and the pricing differentials associated with higher quality credits in a very competitive environment.

Deposit growth was very strong in the fourth quarter as we grew $602 million or 9.4% on a point-to-point basis reaching $6.97 billion at December 31st 2018. Average deposits for the fourth quarter were up 7.2% over the third quarter of 2018. Average deposit growth for the full year of 2018 was 11% as compared to 2017. We are very pleased with the continued growth in core deposits. While our cost of funds had increased, we feel we have prudently managed through the rising short-term rate environment and most importantly have maintained our customer relationships by demonstrating that we will pay fair reasonable rates as the markets adjust over time.

During the fourth quarter, we made another slight increase in the level of longer term CDs to lock in a portion of our funding costs. We are pleased with the CD rates that we were able to lock in during the second, third and fourth quarter of 2018. For the fourth quarter, we held an increase in the composite cost of funds to only 9 basis points over the cost in the third quarter. That compared to an 11-basis point increase in the third quarter and a 23-basis point bump in the second quarter of 2018.

A critical point to note is that for the fourth quarter, average DDA balances increased $142 million or 6%. This is the result of our strong customer ties and execution of our relationship-first strategy. DDA remains at 33.4% of average deposits for the quarter, demonstrating again the value of our focus on core deposits and the benefit to the overall composite cost of funds.

We made the strategic decision years ago and developed our business model as a commercially oriented bank. While that means we may have to pay slightly higher rates in our interest rate bearing deposit, our successful execution under that business model is what allows us to maintain 33% of our deposits in DDAs and our cost structure what leads to an efficiency ratio of only 36%.

The regional economy here in Washington area had a very good year in 2018 with employment growth of over 60,000 net new jobs during the year. That was a strong year considering the average growth over the last 10 years has been about 42,000 net new job growth per year. The recent announcement by Amazon was good news, but it only added to what we already have as a powerful story. Clearly, the Washington Metropolitan Area remains one of the best markets in the country. We are the fifth largest regional economy in the U.S. with Gross Regional Product of $529 billion and the federal government spending represents only about 31% of the regional GRP.

The impact of the current partial government shutdown is hard to determine at this point. But the general belief is that the impact will be minimal, if the situation is resolved by the end of January. If it goes beyond that, the shutdown would begin to impact not only federal employees, but also smaller government contractors and have a ripple effect on local retail businesses. We are currently evaluating our customer base to identify any potential issues, are reaching out to our customers and ready to assist with any cash flow needs when possible.

We do know that the last federal government shutdown in 2013 had no impact on our credit quality. At this point, we do not anticipate there being a major impact on the region and remain committed to our customers and the market. We remain consistent in our ALCO philosophy and disciplined practices and continue to maintain a relatively neutral position in regard to interest rate sensitivity. Our ALCO position remains well balanced. Excluding loans held for sale, 61% of the loan portfolio is in variable or adjustable rate loans. The percentage of variable rate loans is fairly consistent with our position a year ago. So we are still slightly asset sensitive.

As of December 31st 2018, the repricing duration of the loan portfolio is only 17 months. For the fourth quarter of 2018, the Bank maintained its excellent position in regard to asset quality. At December 31st, NPAs as a percentage of total assets were 20 basis points as compared to 20 basis points in September 2018, and 20 basis points on December 31st 2017. For the fourth quarter of 2018, the Company recognized net charge-offs of 5 basis points of average loans as compared to 15 basis points in the fourth quarter of 2017. For the full year of 2018, net charge-offs were just 5 basis points of average loans, improved from 6 basis points from the year of 2017. The allowance for loan loss at December 31st 2018 was 1% of total loans, unchanged from September 30th 2018 and slightly decreased from 1.01% at December 31st 2017. Our reserve methodology and practices have been consistently applied and that allowance has been computed based upon a risk analysis of each component of the portfolio, loan growth during the period and various environmental factors.

The provision expense was $2.6 million for the fourth quarter as compared to $4 million for the fourth quarter of 2017. The decrease in the provision for the fourth quarter of 2018 is consistent with the loan growth during the period, decreased levels of charge-offs and overall improvement in asset quality factors.

The level of non-performing loans and other non-performing assets in our portfolio continue to be very favorable levels. With non-performing loans at 23 basis points of total loans at December 31st, the coverage ratio at year-end 2018 was 453% and we believe that we are adequately reserved. The very favorable efficiency ratio of 36.09% for the fourth quarter and 37.31% for the full year of 2018 clearly shows the results of our continuing emphasis on productivity and operating leverage.

For the full year of 2018, revenue increased 8.4% while expenses were up only 6.9% for the period. The efficiency ratio for the fourth quarter was slightly lower than the annual average as we trued up some accrual items and continue to see the benefit of our branch-light strategy and our focus on technology.

Compensation-related expenses are well managed with defined incentive programs. Basic data processing costs and FDIC insurance expenses are growing in line with deposit and transaction volumes. As we approach the $10 billion threshold, we continue to make the necessary investments in information security, compliance, risk management and corporate governance functions necessary to support the future growth of the Bank.

Due to our consistent level of profitability, the Company significantly strengthened our capital position during 2018. Through the additions to retained earnings, we added a $152 million in capital during the year. At December 31st 2018, we had a common equity tier 1 ratio of 12.11%, a total risk-based capital ratio of 16.06%, and a tangible common equity ratio of 12.11%. Our capital levels are well above those necessary to be considered well capitalized.

In summary, I'd like to say how pleased we are with this very successful 2018 during which we celebrated our 20th anniversary. We are very proud of our accomplishments during that period. They include not only our profitability and our asset size of $8.4 billion, but our position in the Washington Metropolitan Area as an active commercial and real estate lender, our philanthropic efforts in the community, including primarily the Eagle Bank Foundation and our relationships with the regional universities and colleges through which we provide scholarships and internships to develop the future leaders of our industry.

We thank our employees, our Board of Directors, our shareholders and especially our customers for the support given to us over the past 20 years. That concludes my formal remarks and we'd be pleased to take questions at this time.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

(operator instructions). Our first question or comment comes from the line of Casey Whitman from Sandler O'Neill. Your line is open.

Casey Whitman -- Sandler O'Neill -- Analyst

Good morning.

Ronald D. Paul -- Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Good morning, Casey.

Charles D. Levingston -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Good morning, Casey.

Janice L. Williams -- Executive Vice President

Good morning, Casey.

Casey Whitman -- Sandler O'Neill -- Analyst

Maybe first if we could dig into your comments about your outlook for the margin improving, just starting with the outlook for the asset yield to come up from here. Does that mean you expect the payoffs in the construction book going forward to maybe slow down? And if that's the case, is your outlook still for high single-digit loan growth? Or could we even maybe see that in the low double digits?

Ronald D. Paul -- Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Casey, I think we do continue to see (inaudible) in the construction projects. But we -- the yield that we saw in the fourth quarter was also impacted, it's worth mentioning, by the acceleration of deferred fees and costs -- it was more impacted in the third quarter than it was in the fourth quarter.

I would expect some of that to normalize. However, I think that you'll see relatively consistent level of payoffs, perhaps a little -- little less so going forward.

Casey Whitman -- Sandler O'Neill -- Analyst

Okay, so I guess your outlook kind of holds for high single-digit loan growth going forward then?

Ronald D. Paul -- Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, yeah. I think high single digits is still where we're -- where we're eyeing in terms of the loan growth.

Casey Whitman -- Sandler O'Neill -- Analyst

Okay. And can you also give us an idea of where loans were coming in on this quarter versus last quarter?

Ronald D. Paul -- Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Casey, loans are -- loans are coming in from the typical sources that we've always been successful in growing, the brokerage community, the relationships that we have directly with the developers, and we continue to see that demand there, it's on the C&I side, we're seeing additional businesses, larger size credits, and we were just pleased in terms of what we're getting in the new loans side. I mean it's just -- it's an ongoing exercise of increasing our loans, just through the community.

Charles D. Levingston -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

And in terms of rates whatever it's coming in, it's 5.15%, 5.20% is kind of that -- the coupons that we've seen come on in the fourth quarter. Again, you tack on the deferred fees and costs, that's somewhere around 30 basis points to that to get your yields.

Janice L. Williams -- Executive Vice President

And Casey, I think some of that new loan rate issue is related to the significant increase that we've had in C&I loans this year. And there considerably more price-competitive for quality large lines of credit that oftentimes come with significant deposits.

Casey Whitman -- Sandler O'Neill -- Analyst

Got it. Now on the deposits side, you guys saw a really nice inflow in a number of categories. So you mentioned at least some of that due to seasonality. So, is there a chunk in there that maybe you consider be more short term? But I guess the bigger question is, as you put some of the liquidity to work into loans, where do you guys see that 100% loan deposit ratio going to into 2019? How comfortable are you guys with that going up more?

Charles D. Levingston -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Casey, I think we normalize a little higher, some of that excess liquidity that we saw in the fourth quarter, which we were still able to earn a healthy rate at the Fed in excess funds, I think does drift some of it with the market conditions, you had a lot of volatility in the equity markets that pushed a lot of liquidity out of those equity markets and into the banks, that was part of it. We did also have some big wins.

So there is some stability in there as well in terms of that excess liquidity that we'll be able to deploy going forward. And then as we also mentioned that seasonality is kind of the third leg of that. So you'll see some of that normalize, but there is a healthy portion of that is here for the near term that we'll be able to work into higher yielding assets.

Ronald D. Paul -- Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Casey, also, if I could just add to that, the big wins that we've -- that we received in the fourth quarter are core relationships. So we believe that we continue to have an opportunity to continue to build those relationships and while it takes time to put it out in loans, at least it's -- it has a nice impact on our EPS.

Casey Whitman -- Sandler O'Neill -- Analyst

Got it. I'll just ask one more and let someone else jump on. So the market in the beginning of the year seem to be pricing in a recession, so I'll just ask, anything you're seeing in your markets, that makes you nervous or anything you're staying away from?

Ronald D. Paul -- Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

You know, it's a great question. In the second and third quarter, I think we were a little bit more apprehensive on the growth, but we continue to see the strong employment growth, people coming into the community, this Amazon does have -- does have an impact in certain areas. The multi-family residential housing continues just to skyrocket, vacancies are coming down and we're seeing just a strong market.

So you know it's -- it certainly fights the comment of where we are in our credit cycle, but we do believe that the Washington market has some very unique characteristics.

Casey Whitman -- Sandler O'Neill -- Analyst

Great. Thank you guys.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question or comment comes from the line of Austin Nicholas from Stephens. Your line is open.

Austin Nicholas -- Stephens -- Analyst

Hey guys, good morning.

Ronald D. Paul -- Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Hey Austin.

Janice L. Williams -- Executive Vice President

Hi.

Austin Nicholas -- Stephens -- Analyst

Most of my questions were answered on the assets side of the margin, but maybe just digging into the liabilities side. Your deposit cost kind of increased at a kind of a consistent level to last quarter. Any commentary on what you're seeing in the deposit market? And then any expectations kind of for 2019 for any alleviation there that you could see if the Fed raises maybe -- maybe one time or call it less than 2018?

Ronald D. Paul -- Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, Austin, we did continue to -- our efforts in the CD gathering process and as rates did move up again in the fourth quarter, we saw similar movement there, a lot of that is kind of falling out of those in terms of CD gathering as you're not getting much given the flatness of the curve at this point as a depositor. So I would expect some of that to taper. Similarly, provided that the outlook remains and holds with the -- with respect no further rate moves in 2019, I would think that we will be able to stabilize funding cost to some degree so that you wouldn't see the kind of moves that you've seen in prior quarters.

We've seen other banks in the market pull down some of their rate specials and folks getting a little less aggressive with how they're marketing for deposits. So the expectation is perhaps that helps us out going forward.

Austin Nicholas -- Stephens -- Analyst

Understood. That's helpful. And then maybe just on the fee income side of the business. Any outlook on the FHA business or the SBA side of things as you look to '19 and then any impact you're seeing on either of those business lines on the government shutdown would be helpful.

Charles D. Levingston -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

As far as the FHA side, we're still optimistic on 2019. We have a good pipeline. Unfortunately, it's sitting on somebody's desk right now, where nobody is there to process them, but we do have the confidence we talked about in the past, although disappointing in 2018, we feel that the pipeline for 2019 is good.

Austin Nicholas -- Stephens -- Analyst

Got it. And then maybe just one last one. The tax rate ticked down a little bit. Is that a good run rate to think about as we think about '19, kind of 20%, 25%?

Ronald D. Paul -- Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Yes. We got involved in a low income housing tax credit in the fourth quarter and took the benefit of that which reduced the tax rate, I see the tax rate in the 25% to 25.5% range going forward. Also, yeah, we can -- speaking of taxes, we can think of the margin and the tax affected impact on that will -- and looking at that, when we normalize for taxes, it's about 2 basis points higher just as a note something new we've looked at this quarter.

Austin Nicholas -- Stephens -- Analyst

So you're -- on the margin, you're saying that the tax credit investment impacted the margin?

Ronald D. Paul -- Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

No, I have -- you just (inaudible) the thought that when we're -- as we're talking about taxes here, there is an impact on the margin -- sorry that confused.

Austin Nicholas -- Stephens -- Analyst

Got it. No. Understood. Okay, great. Well, I'll hop off for somebody else. Thanks guys.

Charles D. Levingston -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Austin.

Operator

Our next question or comment comes from the line of David Bishop from FIG Partners. Your line is open.

David Bishop -- FIG Partners -- Analyst

Hey, good morning, guys.

Charles D. Levingston -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Good morning, Dave.

Ronald D. Paul -- Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Good morning, David.

Janice L. Williams -- Executive Vice President

Good morning.

David Bishop -- FIG Partners -- Analyst

Hey, Ron, you alluded to the -- you've been through this before in terms of the government shutdown, in terms of last time, did that show up anywhere in terms of, I know, it didn't drag on as long as this, but did some of your government contractors, did they start tapping lines of credits or chewing through deposits, I guess, where would you expect to see the signs of stress if it did emerge and this things drags on longer than expected and any sense of exposure you can give us in terms of the government contract exposure there. I guess some of the federal workers looks like they'll get them back pay but I guess there's a lot of angst about the government contracting sector, that's so vital to the DC area.

Ronald D. Paul -- Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Sure. We have about $100 million in government -- outstanding to government contractors. So we do believe that if this continues much longer, then we will see them tapping into their lines of credit. But as a commercial bank, it's going to be across the board, whereas -- where some of these companies will be looking to tap on their line.

Janice L. Williams -- Executive Vice President

I think we've been proactive in reaching out to our Gov Con customers and making sure that they have an adequate level of protection. It's really the smaller, less sophisticated, sure government contractors that we are working with the most to ensure that they have the availability if this should drag on. We haven't had to make any adjustments thus far, but difficult to figure out how long this is going to last.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question or comment comes from the line of Catherine Mealor from KBW. Your line is open.

Catherine Mealor -- KBW -- Analyst

Thanks, good morning.

Ronald D. Paul -- Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Hi, Catherine.

Charles D. Levingston -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Hi, Catherine.

Janice L. Williams -- Executive Vice President

Hi, Catherine.

Catherine Mealor -- KBW -- Analyst

I just have one follow-up on just the loan yields, just wanted to circle back after Casey's questions there. Can we think -- we take a step back, so Ron, you believe that the margins should move higher moving forward more just from -- as we -- as your excess liquidity is put to work and that comes down, so just a remixing. But as we think about just loan yields alone, do you feel like this quarter's decline was -- are we kind of now set back and that should increase at a more moderate pace or do you see further pressure on loan yields, so that really stays more flat this year, kind of, I don't know what the Fed does if they play on that. I'm just -- I get how there's upside to the margin, just from the remix, but just trying to think about just the loan yield piece as it -- as it stands alone, in what direction or magnitude we could see that move over time? Thanks.

Ronald D. Paul -- Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

From the production perspective, our loan yields are been pretty consistent over the past couple of quarters. Obviously, it's just difficult to determine based on payoffs because you had -- we had one fairly large condominium project that had $53 million worth of payoffs in one quarter, which we were not expecting and that was again at a higher yielding asset yield.

So as far as the loan production side, we've been pretty flat in terms of where we believe we can generate the yields.

Catherine Mealor -- KBW -- Analyst

And do you have the average production rate -- the average rate of new production?

Charles D. Levingston -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. The weighted average rate of new production, again, that I'd call in that 5.15% to 5.20% range and then again 30-ish basis points or so on -- for deferred fees and costs to get to yield. Again, I'd point out that those deferred fees and costs were more impactful in the third quarter than they were in the fourth quarter. The loans that paid off had further to go relative to their maturity in the third quarter, so the acceleration of fees that you saw in the third quarter had some positive impact to the yield that we didn't necessarily see in the fourth quarter as those payoffs were much closer to maturity.

So that does have an impact and I think that was a little anomalous, so you may see some positive impact from that perspective going forward.

Catherine Mealor -- KBW -- Analyst

Got it -- roughly new loan production is coming on right around this 5.60% level, give or take. So the -- really the margin expansion is -- aside from another rate increase, all else equal, the margin expansion is really from remix more so than that 5.60% really moving significantly higher from here. Is that a fair statement?

Charles D. Levingston -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

I think that's fair.

Catherine Mealor -- KBW -- Analyst

Okay. All right, great, thanks for the clarity.

Charles D. Levingston -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question or comment comes from the line of Steven Comery from G Research. Your line is open.

Steven Comery -- G Research -- Analyst

Hey guys, thanks for taking my question.

Ronald D. Paul -- Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

(inaudible).

Steven Comery -- G Research -- Analyst

So just wanted to step off the margin for a second. Salaries look like they took a pretty meaningful step down in the quarter. The press release talks about stock accruals. Maybe if you could give us some indication as to kind of how big the delta is there, like how big of the piece that is of salaries when they're falling in there?

Ronald D. Paul -- Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, I think that looking at the second and third quarters probably a better on average is probably a better run rate going forward with what you saw in 2018 was accruals based on expectations and performance, obviously, as you get further down the line toward the end of the year, that performance comes into focus. I cite some examples, the FHA group did not quite perform as we expected to nor did the SBA group, so that we were able to true up those what we had accrued for those groups.

We also have some performance-based shares which are measured relative to an index. And again, as you get closer to that, cliff vesting which also will take place here next month, then you get a better sense of what those payouts are going to be. So that's -- that's indicative of some of that true-up, but I think looking at the second and third quarter on average is probably a better indication for '19 of what we could expect in terms of a run rate at this point.

Steven Comery -- G Research -- Analyst

Okay. That's helpful. And then, yeah, I don't want to believe it is too much -- but coming back to the margin for a second. So the December rate hike, I mean how do you guys think that will play out through kind of through all the puts and takes on the margin, would we expect asset yields to increase and how do you expect deposit pricing to play out? I know you guys said you look at yourselves as asset neutral, but kind of just into Q1, how do you think about that?

Ronald D. Paul -- Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Yes, to your point, Steven, is the push and pull, right, you've got new loan volumes coming on at slightly lower rates than those that are being paid off. At the same time, we've got 61% of our portfolio that's adjustable and variable rate, but that will reprice and have repriced. So I think the net is going to be slightly positive for us and I think that's where we're (inaudible).

Steven Comery -- G Research -- Analyst

Okay, fair enough. I think that's really I had, all the other questions were asked and answered.Thanks guys.

Ronald D. Paul -- Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Charles D. Levingston -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. We have a follow-up question from the line of David Bishop from FIG Partners. Your line is open.

David Bishop -- FIG Partners -- Analyst

Great, thank you. Apologies for cutting off there. Just a follow-up maybe to the operating expense questions. I think this year, total operating expenses up about close to 6% or so, you've made some investments in risk management such, as you pass out 2019, maybe some outlook and do you think that mid single-digit, high single-digits probably the right rate of growth to use?

Charles D. Levingston -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, I think that's right. We're going to continue to focus on expense control to the extent that we need to, given that revenue materializes, the expenses will follow, we're going to be -- we're very, again, as Ron mentioned, feel our prospects are very good for the non-interest income business, it's going to be pivotal for us in the coming year, and we are going to be watching our expenses relative to -- so what that group brings in to make sure that we remain the profitable company that we are and maintain our operating leverage. So, I think to your point, those mid-to-high single digits is a good outlook for expenses.

Steven Comery -- G Research -- Analyst

Got it. And then, in the preamble run, I think you mentioned the level of pay-downs this quarter versus last. Just curious about what that was and didn't know if you had the actual weighted average yields on the loans that did payoff this quarter.

Ronald D. Paul -- Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, I believe we can -- Charles, you have that?

Charles D. Levingston -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. The weighted average rate, unfortunately not the yield, but the weighted average rate was 5.52% on the loans that paid off in the fourth quarter, the $356 million.

Steven Comery -- G Research -- Analyst

Do you have the number from last quarter in terms of sales?

Charles D. Levingston -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, that was 5.38%, and $345 million.

Steven Comery -- G Research -- Analyst

Great, thank you.

Operator

Thank you. I'm showing no additional questions in the queue at this time, I would like to turn the conference back over to Mr. Ron Paul for any closing remarks.

Ronald D. Paul -- Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

I'd like to thank everybody again for partaking in the call, and we are available at any time should anybody have any further comments or questions, so thank you very much for attending.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for participating in today's conference, this concludes the program. You may now disconnect. Everyone have a wonderful day.

Duration: 43 minutes

Call participants:

Charles D. Levingston -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Ronald D. Paul -- Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Casey Whitman -- Sandler O'Neill -- Analyst

Janice L. Williams -- Executive Vice President

Austin Nicholas -- Stephens -- Analyst

David Bishop -- FIG Partners -- Analyst

Catherine Mealor -- KBW -- Analyst

Steven Comery -- G Research -- Analyst

More EGBN analysis

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