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First Interstate BancSystem, inc (FIBK) Q2 2021 Earnings Call Transcript

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FIBK earnings call for the period ending June 30, 2021.

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First Interstate BancSystem, inc (FIBK -2.11%)
Q2 2021 Earnings Call
Jul 28, 2021, 11:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good day, and welcome to the First Interstate BancSystem's Second Quarter Earnings Conference Call. All participants will be in listen-only mode. [Operator Instructions] After today's presentation, there will be an opportunity to ask questions. [Operator Instructions] Please note today's event is being recorded.

I'd now like to hand the conference over to Lisa Slyter-Bray. Please go ahead, ma'am.

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Lisa Slyter-Bray -- Executive Assistant

Thanks, Rocco. Good morning. Thank you for joining us for our second quarter earnings conference call. As we begin, please note that the information provided during this call will contain forward-looking statements. Actual results or outcomes may differ materially from those expressed by those statements. I'd like to direct all listeners to read the cautionary note regarding forward-looking statements and factors that could affect future results contained in our most recent annual report on Form 10-K filed with the SEC and in our earnings release as well as the risk factors identified in the annual report, and our more recent periodic reports filed with the SEC.

Relevant factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from any forward-looking statements are included in the earnings release and in our SEC filing. The Company does not undertake to update any of the forward-looking statements made today. A copy of our earnings release, which contains non-GAAP financial measures is available on our website at fibk.com. Information regarding our use of the non-GAAP financial measures may be found in the body of the earnings release and a reconciliation to their most directly comparable GAAP financial measures is included at the end of the earnings release for reference. Joining us from management this morning are Kevin Riley, our Chief Executive Officer, and Marcy Mutch, our Chief Financial Officer along with other members of our management team.

At this time, I'll turn the call over to Kevin Riley. Kevin?

Kevin Riley -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Lisa. Good morning, and thanks again to all of you for joining us on our call today. Again, this quarter, along with our earnings release, we have published an updated investor presentation that has some additional disclosures that we believe will be helpful. The presentation can be accessed on our Investor Relations website, and if you have not downloaded a copy yet I encourage you to do so. I'm going to start today by providing an overview of the major highlights for the quarter, and then I'll turn the call over to Marcy so she can provide more details on our financials.

During the second quarter, we generated net income of $42.5 million or $0.69 per diluted shares while delivering everything we discussed last quarter. Excluding PPP loans, we generated upper-single digit annualized loan growth, higher levels of net interest income and fee income on a run rate basis, well-controlled expenses and excellent credit metrics. We saw an acceleration of positive trends we experienced early in the year, driven by healthy economic activity throughout our markets. This resulted in yet another quarter of strong deposit inflows, which grew by 12.4% annualized in the quarter. Non-interest bearing deposits alone grew $413 million or 33% on an annualized basis. We continue to utilize these strong deposit inflows to grow earning assets, both in loans and investment securities, which produced an expected increase in our net interest income excluding the impact of PPP fees.

Across our footprint we have been able to effectively capitalize on high -- higher loan demand we are now seeing and grew our total loan balances, excluding PPP at an annualized rate of approximately 9%, which is consistent with the outlook we provided last quarter. Notably, we are seeing balanced contributions to growth across almost all of our portfolios and markets as our clients continue to look for attractive opportunities to invest into this robust economic environment in the states we serve. Our Western markets continue to produce our strongest growth rates, but we are now seeing real improvement in our Eastern markets as well. Encouragingly, we saw our commercial portfolio, excluding PPP loans increase at an annualized rate of approximately 3%, which is the first quarter of substantial growth we have experienced in this portfolio since the pandemic started. This growth came despite line utilization remaining relatively unchanged, and still well below historic norms.

Heading into the second half of the year, we are continually focused around speed to market, more efficient underwriting, and we are expecting the recent growth trends to continue allowing us to come in at or above mid-single-digit range we originally expected for the year. Our continued deposit growth should enable us to put more liquidity to work in our investment portfolio than we initially expected, the details of which Marcy will discuss later. We will do this, however, at a much shorter durations to retain our assets sensitivity position.

The health of our markets is evident -- also evident in the continued across the board improvement in our asset quality. Non-performing assets, non-performing loans, delinquent loans, and criticized loans were all down. Net charge-offs annualized at a percentage of average loans was only 4 basis points. Nevertheless, we continue to take a cautious approach and maintain a healthy reserve, which remains at 1.3% of loans held for investment and is at 1.46% excluding PPP loans.

As I usually do, I would like to add some additional color about our footprint. The local optimism I noted last quarter continues to be evident across our footprint. Tourism is having a record season as we expected to see. The parks and the surrounding hotels are full and the businesses are seeing activity also follow. In April I noted the positive in-migration trends across our states, which was confirmed in the last census. However, just last week the Wall Street Journal listed Billings, Montana -- yes, Billings, Montana, the new #1 market on the Emerging Housing Market Index, which rates the markets by low unemployment, affordability and attractiveness to the outdoor lifestyle. This continues to attract new residents from all over the country.

In fact, we serve three of the top five markets on the list. Billings, Montana, number one; Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, number two and Rapid City, South Dakota, number four. In short, the bullishness I expressed in April about our markets and the future of the company has been solidified over the last 3 months, and the momentum of our business sets us up for a strong second half of the year. We are expecting solid loan growth, solid operating pre-provision net revenue improvement and strong credit results to drive further improvements in our profitability metrics.

And with that, I'll turn the call over to Marcy so she could provide more details on the quarter. Go ahead, Marcy.

Marcy Mutch -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Kevin, and good morning, everyone. As I walk through our financial results, unless otherwise noted, all of the prior period comparisons will be with the first quarter of 2021, and I'll begin with our income statement.

As previously stated, our priority in the current operating environment is to utilize our strong deposit inflows to grow earning assets and support net interest income. Excluding PPP impact, our second quarter results reflect our execution on this strategy, which generated the growth in net interest income we told you to expect last quarter. On a GAAP basis, our net interest income decreased by $1.9 million as a result of lower PPP fee income, which declined by $4.5 million from last quarter. Accretion income was just $200,000 higher on a linked quarter basis. Excluding the impact of PPP, our net interest income increased by 2.4% or 9.5% annualized. The increase was attributable to growth in both average loans and investment securities during the quarter.

Looking ahead on an operating basis, excluding PPP income, we would expect to see even more improvement in net interest income heading into the second half of the year. With the continued robust growth in deposits, the net interest margin continues to be a challenge. On a reported basis, our net interest margin decreased 22 basis points to 2.82% in the second quarter. This was primarily due to less income derived from our PPP loans, which was about half of the decline and a mix shift toward investment securities at lower rates. The lower rates on the investment securities reflect a full quarter impact of investments made in the first quarter at an average yield of 1.19% and then new securities added during the second quarter at an average yield of 93 basis points. At 4.26%, our average loan yields, excluding PPP impacts, were essentially unchanged from the first quarter.

Although the spread between our book yield and new production continues to narrow, we did benefit this quarter from an adjustment to our indirect auto dealer reserve, which added a few basis points to our average yield that's not expected to carry forward. With the continued inflow of non-interest bearing deposits, our total cost of funds declined by 1 basis points to 11 basis points in the second quarter.

As you can see on Page 27 of the investor presentation, the duration of the securities portfolio was shortened to 4 years from 4.3 years at the end of the first quarter. With the increase we've had and the size of the investment portfolio, we've taken a few actions designed to minimize the potential impact to our capital ratios and increase the earnings power of our cash position, which puts the effective duration at the end of the second quarter at 3.75 years. In early June, we moved securities of approximately $670 million to the held-to-maturity portfolio. This has the effect of eliminating a significant portion of our estimated downside risk to tangible book value should rates begin to rise.

Additionally, in mid-June, we purchased $500 million of 5 year treasury bonds yielding 87 basis points and then simultaneously initiated a $500 million 2 -year forward starting, 3-year pay-fixed swap at 1.19%. We'll begin receiving effective funds in addition to our original yield when the swap goes live on June 30, 2023. As a result of these actions, we've been able to execute our excess liquidity deployment strategy while protecting our capital and maintaining our targeted level of asset sensitivity.

Our non-interest income decreased by $2.8 million quarter-over-quarter to $35.3 million. This was due to the $5.9 million mortgage servicing rights impairment recovery that we recorded last quarter. Excluding the recovery, our quarter-over-quarter operating non-interest income increased primarily due to higher production-related revenue in the mortgage banking business as our retention program came to an end and the percentage of production sold increased. You can see this on Page 36 of the investor deck.

In addition, payment services revenue continues to outperform our expectations as a result of the increased economic activity and higher business credit card volume. Consistent with last quarter's guide, we continue to look for a strong second half of the year and expect our total full-year GAAP non-interest income to be down low to mid-single-digits year-over-year, excluding any additional impact to the fair value of our mortgage servicing rights.

Moving to total non-interest expense. We had an increase of approximately $600,000 from the prior quarter. Of note, during the quarter, we did experience about $1 million of expenses that we do not anticipate carrying forward into the run rate for the second half of the year. Despite those added expenses this quarter, we still expect our GAAP expenses for the full year to be approximately 1% higher than last year.

Moving to the balance sheet, our loans held for investment decreased $29 million from the end of the prior quarter due to a net decline in PPP loans of approximately $230 million. Excluding PPP loans and deferred fees, total loans held for investment were up about $200 million from the end of the prior quarter or 9% annualized. Most of the growth came in commercial real estate, construction, residential real estate and in some non-PPP-related commercial loans. Consumer loans continue to lag due to ongoing inventory shortages and higher-than-normal levels of payoff impacting our indirect portfolio. As of June 30, we had approximately $572 million of PPP loans on our balance sheet with $26.5 million of associated deferred loan fees.

On the liability side, our total deposits increased $472 million from the end of the prior quarter with $413 million of growth coming in noninterest-bearing deposits. And moving to asset quality again, we saw decreases in all of our problem asset categories. Relative to the end of the first quarter, our non-performing loans declined $5.8 million, our non-performing assets declined $6 million and our criticized loans declined $38 million as a result of several upgrades in the Ag and commercial real estate portfolios as well as payoffs on other criticized loans. Our credit losses continue to be very low with $1.1 million of net charge-offs representing just 4 basis points annualized of average loans in the quarter.

And then following the significant build in our reserves during 2020, the improving economic forecast, improved asset quality and low levels of losses in the portfolio offset the provision requirement attributable to growth in the loan portfolio this quarter. As a result, we did not record any provision expense in the quarter. This kept our allowance as a percentage of loans held for investment at 1.38% at June 30 unchanged from the end of the prior quarter. When PPP loans are excluded, our allowance represented 1.46% at June 30.

With that, I'll turn the call back over to Kevin.

Kevin Riley -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Marcy. Nice job. I'll wrap up with a few comments about our outlook. So far the year has unfolded pretty much as we expected, if not a little bit more favorable particularly in terms of loan growth. As we look at the second half of the year, we expect a continuation of many positive trends. Businesses in our markets are performing well. In particular in light of the strong tour season, they are generating strong cash flow and growing their deposit balances, which gives us the opportunity to continue to grow earning assets and to generate higher net interest income.

We are seeing good loan growth opportunities in almost all of our markets, and we feel good if not better about the outlook for loan growth than we did 3 months ago. Real estate-related lending continues to see strong -- the strongest demand but commercial loan demand is starting to pick up as well. Excluding PPP loans, we think our full year loan growth will exceed our original expectations with less growth from our -- in the second half of the year coming from our residential real estate portfolio.

In terms of fee income, as our guidance would suggest, we expect to have a good second half of the year. Residential mortgage demand remains strong, and we were getting back to selling more of our production, and we expect to see a lift in our mortgage banking revenue. Meanwhile, payment services and wealth management continues to deliver strong results. Expenses remain well controlled, which should result in a nice improvement in our efficiency ratio in the second half of the year, and credit should continue to be very strong. Collectively, we believe these trends should position us well to see solid earnings growth and noble -- a notable increase in pre-provision net revenue in the back half of the year. And with the foundation of the company being extremely strong from a capital, liquidity and credit perspective, we remain well positioned to execute on any attractive M&A transaction that we believe can further enhance the value of our franchise.

And so with that, I will open it up for -- the call for questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Today's first question comes from Jared Shaw at Wells Fargo Securities.

Jared Shaw -- Wells Fargo -- Analyst

Maybe starting with -- on the loan outlook side. With mortgages here you're going to retain less, sell more, should we be thinking about residential mortgages staying flat as a percentage of the total portfolio from here or more from a dollar balance? And then when you look at the overall mortgage market expectation, I guess just maybe comment on the strength of the purchase market and inventory and things like that in your market.

Kevin Riley -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Well, we -- on a dollar sense, the balances should remain relatively flat for the rest half -- for the rest of the year. With regards to the actual volume of purchase stuff, I mean, inventories are low but as the house comes on the market it is sold and the purchase volume actually is increasing as the refinance volume is going down. So it's pretty robust, Jared.

Jared Shaw -- Wells Fargo -- Analyst

Okay. And then, Marcy, maybe can you just comment on what the expectation is for sort of the pace of PPP fee at this point going forward?

Marcy Mutch -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

You bet. And so, we have about $26.5 million in deferred fees at this point with about $1.1 million remaining from the 2020 originations. So that's going to come into income before the end of the year. The balance of it, I would guess between now and the end of the year, 60%. Yes, 50% to 60%. I think that's reasonable to expect that to come in, in addition to the normal amortization.

Jared Shaw -- Wells Fargo -- Analyst

Okay. Great. Thanks. And then finally, maybe, Kevin, just the -- have you changed any expectations around what the deposit duration could be? I know a lot of people are -- were focusing on the strength of -- the growth and the -- really low cost that everyone has been able to generate on deposits. But what's your expectation for duration as rates start to move? I know you're clearly keeping the asset side really short duration, do you think that we've seen a change in what could be sort of the traditional understanding of deposit duration?

Kevin Riley -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Well -- yes, it's a great question, Jared. I wish I had a crystal ball to tell me exactly what's going to happen with deposits. Right now our expectation, I would say, is that deposits, we're in a deposit-growing season right now. And so we're expecting those deposits to continue to grow. And I think some of the growth and we looked in it, it's interesting. We grew about 3,100 new deposit relationships during the quarter. And then that -- those new deposit ratios brought us about $110 million. So I don't know. I think deposits are -- from this point are going to continue to grow. I'm not sure exactly when that growth will slow down. But right now, we're in our traditional seasonal deposit growth season.

Operator

And our next question today comes from Jeff Rulis with D.A. Davidson.

Jeffrey Rulis -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

Marcy, on your guide of NII to continue to increase in the second half, I guess that sort of begs the question on the two components of that, margin and earning asset balance, is the confidence more on you think you can keep earning asset balances up or growing and margin flat? I just wanted to kind of understand the components of that.

Marcy Mutch -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Yes. And so if you look at what we expect for loan and deposit growth, we would expect the second quarter, the NIM to be near the bottom excluding PPP impacts with only a little bit of run rate impact as a result of the investments we made late in the second quarter. But we do believe we're going to see a nice lift in our net interest income going into the second half of the year. Again because earning asset balances are going to be up and that's going to drive net interest income growth.

Kevin Riley -- President & Chief Executive Officer

All bets are off with regards to net interest margin because if deposits continue to be robust, growth that we're seeing is still going to continue to put pressure on our net interest margin. But net interest income we feel very strong that will increase throughout the rest of the year ex-PPP.

Jeffrey Rulis -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

Got it. Okay. So it sounds like more of a confidence on the earning asset balance then margin is going to do what it's going to do but -- OK. Fair enough.

Kevin Riley -- President & Chief Executive Officer

That's correct.

Marcy Mutch -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

That's correct.

Jeffrey Rulis -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

Okay. The -- wanted to talk about the -- just the decline in non-performers if there was anything specific to those credits or if those were pandemic related or what was kind of cleaning up in the portfolio there?

Kevin Riley -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Yes. We'll have our Chief Credit Officer answer that question. Mike?

Michael Lugli -- Chief Credit Officer

Yes. So this is Mike Lugli. The decline really was a result of payoffs and a large charge-off of $2.2 million associated with one loan. So that really kind of drove that number down. Charge-offs themselves growth were relatively flat and recoveries were -- continue to be very robust and strong.

Operator

And our next question today comes from Jackie Bohlen with KBW.

Jackie Bohlen -- KBW -- Analyst

I wanted to start with the Mountain division because I know the West has been outpacing it and I feel like that's usually our discussion. But wanted -- you sounded more optimistic on the Mountain division and then I saw the article you were referencing about Billings, so I just wanted to see how you were thinking about growth and what it was last quarter?

Kevin Riley -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Well, first of all, good positive growth is better than what we've seen for a period of time. So the West has been really holding us up, so it's really nice to see real positive growth. And it's kind of -- it's really through -- Montana is doing really well. And the interesting thing is Bozeman used to be a hot market but it's now spreading throughout Missoula and Helena and Billings and all the different cities. So that growth is not only which we continue to see and always saw growth in, say, the Bozeman area, it's now spreading throughout like Montana. And even in Wyoming we're seeing some growth for the first time. South Dakota has been always kind of strong but it's even stronger now. So that's kind of what we're talking about. But we used to see a draw in some markets we're actually contracting, so the growth was harder to offset but it's -- we don't see any real contraction of any of the markets who were all kind of growing.

Marcy Mutch -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Yes. I think last year, Jackie, we talked a lot about how we were exiting credits in the Mountain portfolio that we didn't feel were good credits to carry on our balance sheet. And so we just don't have that headwind this year. We feel like we have a pretty clean book. We don't have the headwind of exiting some of those credits that we've exited the last -- actually couple of years in the Mountain division.

Jackie Bohlen -- KBW -- Analyst

Okay. So when I think about the interplay of the West and the Mountain and just the growth optimism, you obviously had a great quarter for growth, might see stronger growth than you even anticipated later in the year it sounds like, is that more a reflection of favorable trends in the Mountain division or is it favorable all across the board meaning the West is growing faster than you would have expected as well?

Kevin Riley -- President & Chief Executive Officer

I would say favorable across the board.

Marcy Mutch -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Yes.

Jackie Bohlen -- KBW -- Analyst

And then in terms of the C&I growth outside PPP, that was great to see. Is that new customer related or is there something else at play there? You mentioned line utilization was fairly flat.

Kevin Riley -- President & Chief Executive Officer

New customer related.

Jackie Bohlen -- KBW -- Analyst

Okay. And then just one last one and I'll step back. When I think about -- and I know that this is more an existential question. When I think about deposits, and I understand what's going on with strong customers who are bringing deposits into the bank, I guess what in your mind do you think it will take for line utilization to come up from where it's at given the trends that you're seeing with maybe customers are using some of their deposits that they're coming in as quickly as they're using them?

Kevin Riley -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Yes. Sometimes you want line utilization and sometimes you don't because some line utilization, they don't -- can't pay it back. But I don't know. I think they're flushed with cash right now, so we're not really anticipating line utilization to pick up too fast. We'd like to see it pick up but I think that the latest customers are flushed with cash. But some of the line utilization, though is in construction lending, so we're going to see some of that increase as we move throughout the rest of the year.

Marcy Mutch -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Yes. And, Jackie, I don't have the exact numbers in front of me but we did look at kind of what our clients' average balances trends were from 2019 into the current environment, and they've gone up substantially. So I agree with what Kevin said. It's just that folks have a lot of cash on hand right now and -- so they're not feeling a need to borrow.

Operator

And our next question comes from Matthew Clark with Piper Sandler.

Matthew Clark -- Piper Sandler -- Analyst

Maybe first one just on -- I know it's not that significant, but the $1 million of unusual expenses this quarter what do they relate to and where did that show up in the P&L?

Marcy Mutch -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Yes. So about half of that amount, Matt, was in salaries and wages and then the balance was split evenly between benefits and other expenses.

Matthew Clark -- Piper Sandler -- Analyst

Okay. Okay. And then just on the improvement in criticized loans, I know you -- Kevin, you've been working hard at getting those numbers down since you arrived and they've come down more meaningfully this quarter. I guess what changed this quarter, I guess how much of that was upgrades versus moving credits out of the bank and so forth?

Kevin Riley -- President & Chief Executive Officer

I'm going to have our Chief Credit Officer to again answer that question. Go ahead, Michael.

Michael Lugli -- Chief Credit Officer

Yes. So you saw in the reduction quarter-over-quarter about $13.8 million was reduction in balances either line utilization coming down or just regular amortization. Also in our Ag book where you saw a fair amount come down, that was just from the strong year that they had in 2020. It was an exceptional year for those folks. There was about -- of the $37 million, about $6 million was upgrades, and then the balance of around $18 million was payoffs.

Matthew Clark -- Piper Sandler -- Analyst

Okay. Got it. And then just on the reserve continues to migrate lower. I guess, can you give us your updated thoughts on where that ratio could bottom? Is day 1 still where you think it will eventually shake out or do you feel like based on the current mix and better macro factors, you could fall below that?

Marcy Mutch -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

At this point, just getting back to the day 1 at around 1.2 or maybe a few basis points lower than that, I think that -- I think it will get to that point over the next year or so and then we'll kind of see where it goes from there. A lot could change in the year as we know.

Matthew Clark -- Piper Sandler -- Analyst

Yes. Okay. And then any material shift in your M&A conversations in the last -- since we last spoke in the last few weeks?

Kevin Riley -- President & Chief Executive Officer

I knew I would not get off the phone answering some question around M&A, but we continue to be very selective on what we're going to do. So I mean, there's a lot of banks out there looking for partners but we're going to be picky. And if and when we do announce a transaction, you can rest assured, it will be a good transaction for our shareholders, a good franchise builder and go forward. So we're being patient, which is not normally my forte but I think at this time in the consolidation thing we have to do the right deal in order for us to be a consolidator way out into the future.

Operator

And our next question comes from Andrew Terrell with Stephens.

Andrew Terrell -- Stephens -- Analyst

So I hear you on the residential mortgage expectations, but just trying to maybe ring fence that with some of the deposit commentary, I guess if deposit growth continues coming at just such a strong pace and above expectations, would that potentially increase the appetite into retaining more resi mortgage in the back half of the year or does it make more sense just to put cash to work in securities just so you can better manage the overall kind of duration?

Marcy Mutch -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Yes, absolutely the second comment. I think putting it into the investment portfolio where we can manage duration like you just stated, that would be our focus in the second half of the year.

Andrew Terrell -- Stephens -- Analyst

Okay. Got it. And then maybe just the in-migration trends across your markets have clearly been awesome as you've noted and picked up over the past year or so, I know that drives kind of home purchases and everything near term, but have you seen those migration trends begin to impact new business formation and commercial loan demand yet or is that something that you think carries kind of a longer tail?

Kevin Riley -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Well, I think we're seeing some right now but I think it's a longer tail. I think it's going to continue to pick up as people believe these are markets that they should invest in because of the economic growth. So that's going to continue to build as the years go by.

Andrew Terrell -- Stephens -- Analyst

Okay. Maybe one last one for me, Kevin, since we last spoke multiples kind of across the group have come in a decent amount, can you just remind us how much you currently have outstanding under a buyback authorization, and then any update on the appetite for repurchases?

Kevin Riley -- President & Chief Executive Officer

I don't know what to...

Marcy Mutch -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

It's about 400,000 shares remaining under -- well, actually $1.9 million. It's $1.9 million under the current authorized buyback, $1.9 million.

Kevin Riley -- President & Chief Executive Officer

And, Andrew, as we always have stated we're really diligent on the earn back of tangible book value dilution, so we're very cautious of when we buy back our stocks so that we don't dilute tangible book and have a long earn back timeline. So we continue to monitor that. When there's a good time to do it we will, and if it's not, we won't. So we -- that's just the principles that we have here.

Marcy Mutch -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Yes. And I think we feel really good about our organic growth opportunities and potential M&A opportunities. And so we probably choose to use our capital to do that first.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Today's next question comes from Tim Coffey at Janney.

Tim Coffey -- Janney -- Analyst

Kevin and Marcy, I appreciate your comments on margin and I think you're spot on there. So the -- I guess the next derivative of that question is the growth that we saw in net interest income this quarter, core I think it was around 2.4%. Is that repeatable?

Marcy Mutch -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Yes.

Tim Coffey -- Janney -- Analyst

Is it low?

Kevin Riley -- President & Chief Executive Officer

It could -- just pencil in that area and I think you'll be good.

Tim Coffey -- Janney -- Analyst

Right. That's all I understand. I think it was a raw condition to talk about margin when we should be really talking about spread income at this point. And then if you look at your deposits -- deposit accounts that received PPP funds, has there been a material change in those balances in the last year?

Marcy Mutch -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Yes. We've seen our deposit balances increase over the last year. And I don't have the numbers in front of me, but we have seen a pretty substantial increase in deposit balance, the carrying balance in accounts.

Tim Coffey -- Janney -- Analyst

Okay. So the PPP money is still sitting there.

Kevin Riley -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Yes. So, Tim, what I think what happened is that they threw a lot of money into some of our markets. And some of these businesses, they were still operating. They were still making money. They were still paying their employees, but they received excess funds. So I think a lot of it just was excess for them. It wasn't like they really needed the money to survive and they had to utilize those funds to pay their employees, I think a lot of these. We didn't shut down as hard as some of the other markets across the country. So a lot of these employers benefited from it and I think they're just holding on to that excess liquidity.

Marcy Mutch -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Well, which is also why we're not seeing line utilization go up. So.

Tim Coffey -- Janney -- Analyst

Okay. Well, then it's really good to see that you put the money to work in the investment portfolio and committed to that. And then just one last thing for me. I think Billings is a great town and totally deserving of that recognition. So I'll step back there.

Marcy Mutch -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Tim.

Kevin Riley -- President & Chief Executive Officer

It was a bad picture to Wall Street though. They had Wells Fargo's picture there instead of us. This is our headquarters.

Operator

Thank you, and ladies and gentlemen, this concludes the question-and-answer session. I'd like to turn it back over to the management team for any final remarks.

Duration: 37 minutes

Call participants:

Lisa Slyter-Bray -- Executive Assistant

Kevin Riley -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Marcy Mutch -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Michael Lugli -- Chief Credit Officer

Jared Shaw -- Wells Fargo -- Analyst

Jeffrey Rulis -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

Jackie Bohlen -- KBW -- Analyst

Matthew Clark -- Piper Sandler -- Analyst

Andrew Terrell -- Stephens -- Analyst

Tim Coffey -- Janney -- Analyst

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Stocks Mentioned

First Interstate BancSystem Stock Quote
First Interstate BancSystem
FIBK
$43.63 (-2.11%) $0.94

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