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Central Pacific Financial Corp (NYSE:CPF)
Q4 2019 Earnings Call
Jan 29, 2020, 1:00 p.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for standing by, and welcome to the Central Pacific Financial Corp. Fourth Quarter 2019 Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] This call is being recorded and will be available for replay shortly after its completion on the Company's website at www.cpb.bank.

[Operator Instructions] I'd like to turn the call over to Mr. David Morimoto, Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer. Please go ahead.

David S. Morimoto -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Andrew, and thank you all for joining us as we review the financial results for the fourth quarter and full year of 2019 for Central Pacific Financial Corp.

With me this morning are Paul Yonamine, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; Catherine Ngo, President; and Anna Hu, Executive Vice President and Chief Credit Officer. During the course of today's call, management may make forward-looking statements. While we believe these statements are based on reasonable assumptions, they involve risks that may cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. For a complete discussion of the risks related to our forward-looking statements, please refer to our recent filings with the SEC.

And now, I'll turn the call over to Paul.

Paul K. Yonamine -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, David, and good morning, everyone. I'm pleased to report on the Company's solid financial performance for the fourth quarter of 2019 as well as for the full 2019 year. We continue to generate strong loan and core deposit growth and maintain solid asset quality and capital ratios, both on a sequential quarter and a year-over-year basis. For the full 2019 year compared to last year, we improved our net interest income, net interest margin, non-interest income and efficiency ratio.

David will be providing the details of our financial highlights later in this call. Our profitability and strong capital position enabled us to repurchase 165,700 shares of CPF stock during the fourth quarter. During the 2019 year, we repurchased 797,000 shares or roughly 2.8% of our common stock outstanding as of the end of 2018.

Combined with cash dividends, we have returned $48.5 million in capital to our shareholders this past year. We continue to execute with our RISE2020 initiative to enhance customer experience, drive stronger long-term growth and profitability, and improve shareholder returns. In the fourth quarter, we launched our new website under the cpb.bank domain name and implemented an end-to-end commercial loan origination system that will drive better efficiency. The development of our new online and mobile banking platform is progressing well and our employees are excited to pilot the new platform in the first quarter.

Key steps toward our 2020 milestones in the area of the branch and ATM modernization were achieved with construction under way at our main branch headquarters and our new ATM selected. The Hawaii economy continues to perform well with annual visitor arrivals set to exceed 10 million for the first time ever, continued strength in construction activity and growing importance of military in Hawaii over U.S.'s Indo-Pacific strategy.

At this time, I'll turn it over to Catherine for our balance sheet highlights. Catherine?

A. Catherine Ngo -- President

Thank you, Paul. Our total assets surpassed the $6 billion mark at year-end and reflected an increase of 3.5% from the previous year-end. Our balance sheet composition continues to move in the right direction with growth focused in loans and core deposits. Total loans increased by $82 million or 1.9% over the previous quarter and by $371 million or 9.1% year-over-year.

On a sequential quarter basis, increases were led by $43 million in growth in consumer loans and $41 million in growth in resi mortgages. On a year-over-year basis, the $371 million loan growth was broad-based in almost all loan categories. Asset quality continued to be strong with non-performing assets of $1.7 million, which represented 3 basis points of total assets. Total deposits increased on a sequential quarter basis by 1.6% and year-over-year by 3.5%.

Importantly, core deposits contributed to all that growth with the sequential quarter increase of $103 million or 2.5% led by a 3.7% increase in non-interest bearing demand balances. The year-over-year increase in core deposits of $243 million or 6.1% was led by a 10.5% increase in savings and money market balances and a 9.3% increase in interest-bearing demand. The increases in core deposits, both sequential quarter and year-over-year, were offset by planned decreases and higher cost government time deposits.

Our loan-to-deposit ratio was 87% as of the end of the year. Our efforts in business development and targeted deposit gathering strategies have yield successful results in deposit growth. We are continuing to ramp up these efforts in 2020, supported by further strengthening of our teams and technology platforms.

At this time, I'll turn the call over to David to review in more detail the highlights of our financial performance. David?

David S. Morimoto -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Catherine. Net income for the fourth quarter of 2019 was $14.2 million or $0.50 per diluted share, compared to net income of $14.6 million or $0.51 per diluted share reported last quarter. Return on average assets in the fourth quarter was 0.95% and return on average equity was 10.70%. For the full 2019 year, net income was $58.3 million or $2.03 per diluted share, compared to net income of $59.5 million or $2.01 per diluted share in the prior year. Return on average assets for the 2019 year was 0.99% and return on average equity was 11.36%.

For the full-year 2019, pre-tax pre-provision net revenue totaled $84.2 million, which was a year-over-year increase of $7.1 million or 9.2%. We are pleased we were able to post solid 2019 results, while investing for our future through our RISE2020 initiative.

Net interest income for the fourth quarter increased by $2.3 million to $47.9 million on a sequential quarter basis, and the net interest margin was 3.43%. The fourth quarter included $1.1 million in non-recurring interest and dividend income, which positively impacted net interest income and net interest margin.

On a normalized basis, the fourth quarter net interest margin was 3.34%, which represented a 4 basis point sequential quarter increase. The sequential quarter normalized net interest margin expansion was driven by increases in average loan balances and decreases in interest-bearing deposit and borrowing costs. During the fourth quarter, we recorded a provision for loan and lease losses of $2.1 million, compared to a provision of $1.5 million recorded in the prior quarter.

Net charge-offs in the fourth quarter totaled $2.3 million, compared to net charge-offs of $1.6 million in the prior quarter. The charge-offs primarily came from the Hawaii consumer loan portfolio. At December 31, our allowance for loan and lease losses was $48.0 million or 1.08% of outstanding loans and leases. Fourth quarter other operating income totaled $9.8 million, compared to $10.3 million in the prior quarter. The decrease was primarily due to lower mortgage banking income.

Other operating expense for the fourth quarter was $36.2 million, compared to $34.9 million in the prior quarter. The sequential quarter increase was driven by higher salaries and employee benefits, and higher computer software expense. These increases relate to our RISE2020 initiative and also include accruals for incentive compensation. The efficiency ratio was 62.81% in the fourth quarter, compared to 62.48% in the prior quarter. The effective tax rate increased to 26.7% due to return to provision adjustments. Going forward, we expect that effective tax rate to be in the 24% to 26% range.

Now we will return the call back to Paul.

Paul K. Yonamine -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, David. Overall, we are pleased with another solid quarter and the continued positive momentum as we finished up the 2019 year. Our team is working hard to deliver on our RISE2020 commitments, and we look forward to sharing our progress with you over the coming quarters. At this time we will be happy to address any questions you may have. Thank you.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

We will now begin the question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions] The first question comes from Aaron Deer of Piper Sandler. Please go ahead.

Aaron Deer -- Piper Sandler -- Analyst

Hi. Good morning, everyone.

Paul K. Yonamine -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Hey, Aaron.

A. Catherine Ngo -- President

Good morning, Aaron.

Aaron Deer -- Piper Sandler -- Analyst

I guess, I'd like to start on the margins since that was very encouraging results on that -- this quarter. To begin, first, I just want to confirm that other than the non-recurring item that you highlighted that there wasn't any other noise that might have benefited that. And then looking at the asset side of the drivers there, is it your sense that all of the kind of repricing that needs to be done within, I guess, in particular the loan portfolio, but also within the securities book, that that's largely played out at this point, or might we see continued pressure on the asset yields?

David S. Morimoto -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Hey, Aaron. It's David. On the first part of the question, yeah, the non-recurring interest and dividend income, the $1.1 million in the quarter, was the only unusual item in the fourth quarter. And then on the assets -- asset repricing questions, as is normal, a lot of times the liability side -- we're able to react quicker on the liability side than the asset side. The asset side needs to work its way through our portfolio. We don't have generally a higher percentage of variable-rate loans. We were about 60-40 -- 55%, 45% variable. So there is the potential for still some downward repricing on the asset side. But again, we're very pleased with the result of the fourth quarter. We had very good core deposit growth and then we were able to reprice the liability side of the balance sheet well in the fourth quarter.

Aaron Deer -- Piper Sandler -- Analyst

Yeah, it was very impressive, particularly in the -- your overall cost deposits down quite meaningfully. Is there -- is it your sense that there are too, that there is more opportunity to bring that down some, or is that going to be pretty dependent on what market pricing happens for deposits? And then, I guess, given that, with your outlook for the margin overall, can you kind of hold in this, I guess, what 3 -- kind of mid-3.30s level or what are your thoughts there?

David S. Morimoto -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. We're sticking to the guidance that we've had on the margin for the last several quarters. So we're sticking to the 3.25% to 3.35% guidance. We're obviously on the high end of that range on a normalized basis. We do think that there is some opportunities to reprice further, but probably not to the same degree we saw in the fourth quarter. The last -- assuming the Fed stays stable today, the last rate adjustment was in October, so a lot of the repricing on the liability side has run through, but we have been able to move a few things. It's just not going to move at the same degree that we saw in the fourth quarter.

And obviously, the other thing that really helped the margin was the core deposit growth that Catherine highlighted. Core deposit growth, I think, was up 10% linked-quarter annualized. The DDA growth was actually even higher than that on a linked-quarter annualized basis, so that also helps.

Aaron Deer -- Piper Sandler -- Analyst

Okay.

Paul K. Yonamine -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Aaron, this is Paul Yonamine. But we're going to continue a lot of focus and rigor around, trying to increase core deposits going forward. Now, as we make further investments in our RISE2020 initiative, I think the whole workforce is really getting focused on trying to drive the core deposits. And then, naturally, latter part of the year, we're hoping to really see our digital platform come alive to again help us in trying to further increase core deposits.

A. Catherine Ngo -- President

That's great. And then...Another [Speech Overlap] on the NIM. Sorry, Aaron, just on the loan side, and we talked about it in earlier calls in regard to just the discipline on new loans coming on to the book. And so in Q4, our new loans came in at 4.25% average yield, and that compares with an overall portfolio yield of 4.20%. And so that kind of discipline is instilled in our -- in all of our officers as they work with finance, and we would expect that to continue.

Aaron Deer -- Piper Sandler -- Analyst

That's great. And then, I guess, just in terms of the loan growth in the quarter, which was pretty good. Obviously, it looks like -- and maybe you did some -- refilled the consumer bucket there. I was wondering what was that. If it was automobiles or student loans? And what amount that was during the quarter?

A. Catherine Ngo -- President

Yeah. I'll take that question. So in the fourth quarter, yeah, we did refill the book as we saw paydowns in the consumer portfolio on the mainland. So we did have purchases in the fourth quarter and it was a mix of auto and unsecured. So about even, about $30 million in purchased auto and then $30 million in unsecured.

Aaron Deer -- Piper Sandler -- Analyst

Okay. Thank you. I'll step back.

A. Catherine Ngo -- President

Thanks Aaron.

Operator

The next question comes from Laurie Hunsicker of Compass Point. Please go ahead.

Laurie Hunsicker -- Compass Point -- Analyst

Yeah. Hi, good morning. Just staying with loans, how should we be thinking about loan growth for full-year '20?

A. Catherine Ngo -- President

Yeah. We -- for 2020, we're guiding to mid-single digits. As we said in earlier calls, we always hope to exceed the guidance, but we're communicating mid-single digit currently.

Laurie Hunsicker -- Compass Point -- Analyst

Okay. Great. And then same question on deposits. I mean, right now, your core deposits are the -- most attractively priced in all of Hawaii. I mean the cheapest. And so if we think about your focus on growth and keeping those trends, how do you look to grow that book for 2020?

A. Catherine Ngo -- President

So as far as high-level guidance, low-to-mid single digits, but again, hoping to exceed guidance. And the way that we're going to do that as we talked at earlier calls, just looking at our customers, cross-selling into the customer base, we talked about our exceptional account in earlier calls, and that will continue to be a focus, given that's a relationship-based kind of deposit account. And they tend to be higher balances too.

Laurie Hunsicker -- Compass Point -- Analyst

Okay. And then was any of your deposit growth this quarter -- was it from Japanese deposits or if you've got a number on that?

Paul K. Yonamine -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Hi, Laurie. This is Paul.

Laurie Hunsicker -- Compass Point -- Analyst

Hey, Paul.

Paul K. Yonamine -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

So from the last quarter, we've had some ins and outs. We pretty much stayed steady in the fourth quarter, but I think we're making a lot of great progress in terms of getting more penetration into a number of new accounts. I personally was in Japan last month conducting a number of seminars, trying to feature investment opportunities in Hawaii. And I can tell you that I believe that we have a number of new prospects that we plan to continue to stay focused, then harvest new opportunities from this current year.

Laurie Hunsicker -- Compass Point -- Analyst

Okay. Great. And then just on to the RISE2020, I was hoping you could just refresh us in terms of the spend. The last number that I had from you all for 2020 was $7 million. And I don't know if you had a '21 or if there was a refresh number around that, or how we should think about that? And then even more broadly, how we should think about total non-interest expenses as we've heard from some of the other Hawaii banks there's going to be a pretty sharp increase in 2020 and just so how we should think about the expense line? Thanks.

David S. Morimoto -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Sure. Hey, Laurie, it's David. Yeah, I think the latter part of your question is exactly how we would like to view it. It's really the overall other operating expense, because RISE is just becoming part of our business going forward. So the guide on the total other operating expense on a quarterly basis is $36 million to $38 million per quarter in 2020. Having said that, as we've mentioned before, RISE and just overall business, the business plan also includes revenue gains in 2020. So the guide on the efficiency ratio is to remain in the 63% to 65% range throughout the year.

Laurie Hunsicker -- Compass Point -- Analyst

Great. Thanks so much.

David S. Morimoto -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Laurie.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] The next question comes from Jackie Bohlen of KBW. Please go ahead.

Jackie Bohlen -- KBW -- Analyst

Hi. Good morning, everyone.

A. Catherine Ngo -- President

Hey, Jackie.

David S. Morimoto -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Hey, Jackie.

Jackie Bohlen -- KBW -- Analyst

Wondering if you might be able to provide any details on CECL to the extent you're able and if not, just let us know when we might see some of those?

David S. Morimoto -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Hey, Jackie. Yeah, our CECL preparations, obviously, are proceeding along plan. And we'll disclose -- we plan to disclose the CECL range of reserves when we file our 10-K in late February. Having said that, we do believe the CECL impact will be manageable and within the range of expectations that we've been seeing for the broader industry.

Jackie Bohlen -- KBW -- Analyst

Okay. Thank you. That's helpful. And then just one last one. Most everything I had was covered. I know you've had a pretty consistent capital return strategy. But now that we're starting a new year, is there any change in that, or is it just kind of consistent dividend and then consistent level of repurchase activity outside of what you need for internal growth?

David S. Morimoto -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. That's exactly right. There was a period of time, Jackie, as you know, where we had some excess capital, so we were definitely returning 100% of net income. We -- beginning last year, we sort of stepped back from that. So we definitely are maintaining the quarterly dividend with the payout ratio and yield comparable to our peers. And then we're just being a little more opportunistic with the open market share repurchase plan. And obviously, the Board did approve a new $30 million share repurchase plan this month.

Jackie Bohlen -- KBW -- Analyst

Okay. Great. Thank you. Everything else I had was already covered.

David S. Morimoto -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Jackie.

A. Catherine Ngo -- President

Thanks.

Operator

And we have a follow-up from Aaron Deer of Piper Sandler. Please go ahead.

Aaron Deer -- Piper Sandler -- Analyst

Hi. Just a couple of quick housekeeping items to follow-up on. When is -- on the mortgage revenue was down a bit in the quarter. Just curious if that just reflects an adjustment to the MSR. And then secondarily, the -- I was wondering what amount, if any, was there in terms of a benefit from FDIC assessment credit in the quarter? And if any, how much might still be remaining that we might see in the first quarter or two of this year?

Paul K. Yonamine -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Thanks, Aaron. This is Paul. And let me just address first on the -- on your question on mortgages. And on the latter FDIC question, I'll have David touch on that. During the Fourth quarter, we were very successful in going ahead with the whole outsourcing of our mortgage servicing to DMI, the Dovenmuehle. And I have to tell you that, just like any outsourcing process, it's always -- it always takes a herculean effort, but I think the team did a great job and the servicing is ongoing quite well. I have to admit that when you go through these type of transition, sometimes people stay focused internally than externally. And so I think those were some of the dynamics that occurred in the fourth quarter, but I think we're right back on track in the first quarter of this year.

And if you look at a lot of the news coverage these days, the real estate market in Hawaii is still very fibrous. Through our joint ventures of various real estate companies here and our presence in the market, I feel that we should be performing quite well going forward with the ease of mind that a lot of the servicing will be taken care of by a great operator like DMI. David, the second part?

David S. Morimoto -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. Hey, Aaron. On the small bank assessment credit, so after the fourth quarter, we have roughly $540,000 in credits remaining. So assuming that the deposit insurance fund maintains where the level it currently is at, we would expect a zero deposit insurance cost in the first quarter. And then it would -- we'd have some expense in the second quarter, probably roughly around $300,000, and then in the back half of the year we get back to paying the full load of roughly $440,000 per quarter in the back half of the year.

Aaron Deer -- Piper Sandler -- Analyst

Okay. Perfect. Thanks for taking my questions.

David S. Morimoto -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Aaron.

Operator

This concludes our question-and-answer session. I would like to turn the conference back over to Paul Yonamine for any closing remarks.

Paul K. Yonamine -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you. And thank you everyone for participating in our earnings call for the fourth quarter of 2019. We look forward to future opportunities to update you on our progress. Thank you.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks].

Duration: 26 minutes

Call participants:

David S. Morimoto -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Paul K. Yonamine -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

A. Catherine Ngo -- President

Aaron Deer -- Piper Sandler -- Analyst

Laurie Hunsicker -- Compass Point -- Analyst

Jackie Bohlen -- KBW -- Analyst

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